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Title: Tomahawk, Fighting Horse of the Old West

Date of first publication: 1944

Author: Thomas C. Hinkle (1876-1949)

Date first posted: Dec. 10, 2018

Date last updated: Dec. 10, 2018

Faded Page eBook #20181217

This ebook was produced by: Mardi Desjardins, Alex White & the online Distributed Proofreaders Canada team at https://www.pgdpcanada.net


Books by Thomas C. Hinkle




Fighting Horse

of the Old West


by Thomas C. Hinkle



GROSSET & DUNLAP, Publishers

New York

COPYRIGHT - - - 1944






Author’s Note

Tomahawk and the black outlaw cow are based on real characters of the cattle days of the Old West. When the incident of Tomahawk’s fight with the deadly longhorn came to me, I asked three highly trained veterinarians about the end of that battle, scientifically. Being an M.D. myself, I wanted the truth. All three of the veterinarians assured me that if the kick of the horse struck the outlaw cow just above the eyes, the skull could be broken. In the case of a bull or a steer, it was stated, this would be unlikely, since such skulls are much thicker than those of cows.

Horsemen and cattlemen of the Old West have said there was an unusual fighting horse in one among some twenty thousand. I have told elsewhere in one of my books of an unusual wild stallion who fought and kicked a grizzly, broke the bear’s lower jaw and so won the battle. This fact is attested to by the late Theodore Roosevelt in one of his books on ranching in the West.

It is true that Tomahawk was an unusual horse, as was that wild stallion.

My conviction is that, in time, people will know they must try to understand the minds of the lower animals. After all, they and we are all bound up in the same mystery. A professor of biology once said, “The reason the lower animals are so classified is because man did the classifying!” Tomahawk was a great fighting horse as was his mother before him. And it is the unusual horse, or dog, or man that lends itself to drama in story.

T. C. H.


Tomahawk was born many years ago, in the days of the Old West, on a wild cattle range. He came into the world at midnight with the moon and stars shining down on a sequestered little valley of the West. Tomahawk was soon standing on his long, awkward legs, and after he had drunk of the life-giving milk from his mother he began to wobble about. He snorted and began to look around in a world that was a complete mystery to him.

His mother was standing too. She looked about her with searching eyes toward the dark shadows of a ravine that opened here on the valley. She saw nothing, however, but the tall dark trees and she heard nothing but the whispering sounds of the low wind as it stirred through the branches.

Tomahawk did not know that he had been born from a wild mother. Old White Face, as she was known among the men on the Jim Arnold Ranch, had lived in this region for more than twelve years. This wild mother had given birth to a good number of colts in her life, but now she was already getting old and she would give birth to no more. All of her other colts had attracted the cowboys and each one, in time, had been caught by the men before he was six months old. But not so Old White Face. All schemes to capture her had failed and she was still as wild as on the day she was born. Once she had almost been captured when Jim Arnold swung his rope over her head, but when she had felt the rope on her she rushed against it, and with all the force of her fourteen hundred pounds, she broke the rope and galloped away.

As Old White Face stood here in the night watching over her new colt she was as wild and as determined as ever to protect him and keep him with her. The place she had selected for his birth seemed good to her. She could see well in every direction, except for the long line of hills in the north, and she could watch the skyline there for any signs of approaching men.

But cunning as Old White Face was, the cowboys were more cunning still.

It was two weeks after Tomahawk was born that one of the riders chanced to see him from the hills beyond the feeding ground that White Face visited. The cowboy quickly moved out of sight and that night he went back and gave his report to Jim Arnold and the men at the ranch.

Early the next morning Jim Arnold, Bob Williams, Buck Benson and Dan Arnold, Jim’s brother, rode out toward the place. Dan Arnold was at this time thirteen years of age, but he was already very tall, slim and sun-tanned like his brother. Dan was raised on the range and had ridden a horse since he was six years old. Jim Arnold was six feet tall, with piercing dark eyes, and Dan, being now almost as tall, the two of them as the men said, “looked so much alike that they could have been twins if Jim had not been born twelve years before Dan.”

The cover the men selected for a hiding-place was excellent for their purpose. On the top of the high ridge here there grew a number of low cedar trees and between them was a thin screen of brush, so that there were many places where the men could look through and see everything that went on among a number of wild horses below them. A short distance beyond the horses a small, shallow, sandy stream coursed its way lazily along the valley, a stream with no bushes or trees growing beside it. Down the valley the stream gleamed and glistened in the morning sunlight, and the whole place far above and below was one of peaceful stillness.

The men had tied their horses at the base of the hill and made their way up to the lookout on foot. As they approached the top they took off their broad-brimmed hats, and near the summit they bent down low, and, at last, bending lower still, they crawled to a hiding place. They put their hats on the ground beside them and peered through the bushes. They were fortunate in that a steady wind blew across the valley toward them.

When the men looked through the bushes they at once saw everything below, and Jim Arnold whispered, “There they are!” He meant Old White Face and Tomahawk. There were other wild horses feeding below, also, but it was Old White Face and her colt that were above all desirable, and especially her colt. They knew she was now too old ever to be broken satisfactorily, but she was beautiful, with fine blood in her. All her other colts they had captured had proved to be unusually good for they had been larger than the average horses used on the range. The minute Jim Arnold saw Tomahawk now, on this morning, he knew he would grow to be a horse that would be as tall and as big as his mother. Jim Arnold and all experienced horsemen know that the length of a colt’s legs at birth tell about how tall he will be when he is fully grown.

White Face and the other wild horses went on grazing, not knowing that human eyes were watching them. There were four other colts with their mothers on the green valley below, but it was seen that their legs were just the ordinary length. And as Jim and the others looked they had eyes only for Tomahawk. They saw that he was about the same age as the other colts but already he was the most interesting one among them. He was very much taller with his long, gangling legs, and, while the others kept close to their mothers, Tomahawk wandered about some distance from his beautiful mother, White Face. She was a chestnut sorrel horse with long flowing mane and tail. She was considerably taller and bigger than any of the other wild ones that grazed near her, except for a big chestnut sorrel stallion, and White Face was even a little taller than he. She had two white stocking legs in front and a white, or blaze, face, from the base of her ears down to her nose. Tomahawk had that light, uncertain color of most young colts but the men knew that when late fall came he would shed his colt coat, and they wondered what color he would be as a horse. They guessed it might be the same as White Face.

The men noticed the big chestnut sorrel stallion grazing with the other wild horses. He was of a solid color except that he had a small white spot on his forehead, and as he grazed he faced the wind and now and then raised his head and looked out across the valley. He and the others had often been chased by hard-riding cowboys. These, above everything else, were to be avoided. But Jim Arnold, in particular, saw, as he watched, that the wild stallion was not the main “watchdog” of the group; it was White Face. She raised her head often and looked, but unlike the stallion, she glanced in every direction. Jim noticed that as the other horses grazed, they raised their heads now and then, cocked their ears stiffly forward and looked toward her.

Tomahawk stood for a time near his mother, looking intently ahead, his ears cocked forward. Suddenly he let out a snort, kicked up his heels and ran, tearing around the horses as if something possessed him. When he did this White Face raised her head and looked at him, then she went on feeding. Tomahawk ran clear around the small herd, stopped, and looked out on the valley as if his eyes were set on some particular object, although he saw nothing. Again he snorted and kicked up his long hind legs, and again he raced around the horses. But his mother paid no attention. She understood this. It was merely that her colt was full of life. Actually she wanted him so. And then Tomahawk did something he had never done before. He did not know himself why he did it, just as any colt his age does not know why he does things. He looked for a minute out across the valley, snorted, then suddenly bolted away. The instant he was too far, White Face became another mare. She went tearing after him, her long legs taking her swiftly over the ground. The wild stallion and all the other horses stopped grazing and looked up, still chewing the grass in their mouths.

It was surprising how fast Tomahawk ran, but White Face had unusual speed and she overtook Tomahawk. When she did so she laid her ears back, her teeth shone, and she nipped him sharply on the rump as she ran behind him. With an astonished snort Tomahawk whirled, and, understanding his mother meant business, he turned and ran back toward the herd. He ran as fast toward them as he had run away and White Face nipped him at every jump.

This action of White Face here, while unusual, was one that the cattlemen knew sometimes happened. Now and then an old mare, generally an intelligent and fighting mother, would do as White Face did. But more often, as the cattlemen said, “Most fool mares will just run after a colt when he runs away. Just run after him and keep nickering for him to come back. Just run after him and run her fool head off, and nothing more.” It was seen that Tomahawk’s mother was different. Jim Arnold and all the men grinned at the sight. They had great admiration for Old White Face. She was the kind of mother that got things done. They all thought to themselves, “It was right pleasant to see how Tomahawk’s mother took care of him.” She drove him up to the herd, stopped, looked at him briefly and gave a snort. She seemed to say to him, “Well! So that’s over. And if you try that again I’ll give you more next time!” Whereupon White Face went on with her grazing.

Tomahawk stood and looked about, blinked his eyes, put his nose down and touched the grass that seemed to be so interesting to his mother. But as for himself he found it, at this time, wholly uninteresting. He looked for a time at his mother as she bit off the grass and he seemed to think to himself, “You seem hungry. I’m hungry, too,” whereupon he went to his mother’s side, dove his nose up under her flank and began to draw out and swallow the milk, switching his short tail now and then after the manner of a colt while sucking. White Face raised her head and stood still. Tomahawk did not know why he switched his tail. Probably he didn’t know he switched it at all.

Jim Arnold and the men saw that even while her colt was sucking White Face did not forget to watch. She held her head up and, with her large dark eyes, she looked about in every direction. But she did not see or scent the men who were lying hidden watching her. The wind lifted her mane and, now and then, it fanned her long flowing tail. But the wind, sometimes kind to her, was not so on this day. It blew from her toward the watchers on the hill.

Jim Arnold peeped through the brush with his dark, piercing eyes, planning for action. Jim was one of the best rifle shots on the cattle range. It was known generally that if any man could put a rifle ball where he wanted, it was Jim Arnold. Dan and the men here knew this perhaps better than anyone. They all had a great admiration for Jim in this as they did in things generally. They were always glad to be with “the boss.”

It was Bob Williams who whispered low, “Jim, why don’t you crease White Face. I know you can. Crease her and we’ll get her and that colt.” Dan whispered in agreement. “Go ahead, Jim! I’ll go back and bring up your rifle.”

Jim waited a little before he replied. Then he whispered, “All right, Dan. Bring me my rifle. I’ll shoot high, if anything. I’d rather miss altogether before I’d kill that old mare.”

Jim Arnold had been one of the very few men who had at three different times successfully “creased” a wild horse. To do this correctly, a man fired at the top of the horse’s neck so that the rifle ball struck the top of the bone, momentarily shocking the horse into unconsciousness, but doing no further harm. Then, when the horse fell, the man, or men in hiding, ran out and hog-tied the horse. But more horses were killed by this method than otherwise, since the man who shot was more likely to aim too low and so break the horse’s neck, and sometimes the man aimed too high and so missed the horse altogether. It required an expert rifle shot to do the work perfectly.

Dan went down the slope to the horses, picked Jim’s rifle out of the holster on the saddle, and brought along two coils of rope from the saddles. Jim took the rifle and said, “I’m going to shoot high if anything. I won’t take chances, seeing that little feller needs his mammy.”

Lying on his elbows Jim slowly pushed the rifle barrel through the thin brush until he had a perfect line on the big wild mare. At that moment she was standing sidewise to him, and standing perfectly still. She offered a perfect chance. Bang! The rifle roared and the wild horses were off at a run—all except White Face. She went down as if struck by a cannon. Was she killed? The men ran down the slope and Dan, on Jim’s orders, hurried back to bring up all their horses.

The ranchers rushed up to look at White Face. Instantly they felt great relief. They saw she was alive, but stunned. They must work fast with their ropes. They were so busy they could pay no attention to Tomahawk. At first he had started off with the other horses, running like a streak for some distance but, seeing his mother did not follow, he had come running back. He stopped some distance away and saw the men working over her, down on the ground. Uttering a frightened nicker the colt ran around in a circle, stopped and looked at the men, and again ran around the place. He stopped and made the loudest nickering sounds he could in his frightened state of mind.

The men paid no attention to Tomahawk. They knew only that he was near by and they knew he would not leave. They must first fix the ropes on White Face so they could lead her to the ranch. Then they would capture Tomahawk easily. They worked as fast as they could with the ropes, but they had not quite done when White Face came to herself. Her legs were tied so she couldn’t get up but she laid back her ears and reached for Buck Benson with her long white teeth. Buck leaped back and Jim and the others laughed. Jim said, “Buck, I reckon she’s hungry and her liking man meat maybe.” When they saw that White Face would fight them they simply used more caution. They knew that no matter how much she fought they could now restrain her. Bob Williams tossed a loop of rope over her neck from one side and Buck Benson tossed another from the other side. They pulled on the slip-knots until the old mare’s wind was shut off to the point where she had to quit fighting. In a brief time Jim Arnold had all the ropes as he wanted them. He tied two more long ropes on White Face’s neck so they would not slip. By this time Dan had arrived with the saddle horses.

Bob Williams and Buck Benson now mounted their horses and rode off in opposite directions. Each man had tied one of the long ropes, that was attached to the neck of White Face, to his saddle horns. Jim and Dan had their horses close beside them. With a sharp knife Jim cut the two ropes with the slip-knots and quickly mounted his horse. Quick as Jim was, White Face leaped to her feet and tried to charge him with her teeth, but Buck and Bob checked her by holding the long ropes on her neck taut on either side. She lunged back, then ran forward but White Face found herself checked at every point by the two long ropes on either side that were tied to the saddle horns.

And now Jim gave attention to Tomahawk. Swinging his rope he urged his horse after him. Tomahawk had completed only a half circle when the loop caught him and now Dan rode up. Jim fixed a rope that would not slip on Tomahawk’s neck and handed the end of it to Dan saying, as he did so, “Dan, you ride on ahead with him. Old White Face will follow.”

Tomahawk leaped and plunged and gave his coltish snorts and tried to get away. Once when he ran against his rope he fell down. He was not hurt but he had difficulty in getting up on his long, awkward legs. When he was up again Dan started his horse at a walk and pulled the rope on Tomahawk’s neck. Again Tomahawk unlimbered his long legs and ran against the rope and fell. He got up, stood trembling, and let out a shrill, coltish nicker to White Face. The old mare lunged forward and Dan started his horse again. Tomahawk leaped forward but he did not run as hard as before. Dan looked only at Tomahawk. He knew he did not need to watch the old fighting mare behind with her long gleaming teeth. Jim and the others would see that she did not get too close. Buck and Bob rode wide apart, keeping the long ropes on her neck as taut as possible.

Dan rode ahead with Tomahawk and Jim rode behind White Face, as he said, “to encourage her some.” Tomahawk still tried to break away, and again and again he nickered to White Face and she nickered shrilly back to him. The old mare went forward as fast as she could. They traveled on and were making good time toward the ranch. White Face looked forward with blazing eyes, her chestnut sorrel coat dark with sweat. After some time had passed Jim said they would stop and let her rest. He rode up near her and began talking to her. “Now, don’t take on so, Old Lady. We don’t aim to hurt you or the little feller either. You will both be better with us than out here where the wolves and mountain lions can tackle your colt. Take it easy!”

Jim rode up to the place where Dan sat on his horse holding Tomahawk. Dan pulled the rope up short so that Tomahawk stood quite near. Jim dismounted and put his hands on Tomahawk. Tomahawk leaped to get free but Jim put one long arm around the colt’s chest and the other around his rump and held him. He began to talk to him, saying, “Now, see here, little feller, we won’t hurt you. You got to get acquainted with us and once you do, you’ll like it.” Tomahawk tried to jump free but Jim easily held him. Jim could have lifted Tomahawk from his feet had he so desired. Dan dismounted and began to rub Tomahawk, but he did not put his hands on Tomahawk’s nose. Dan knew, as did the men, that a colt, first caught, in human hands, could stand handling better anywhere on his body than around his head, and especially his nose.

When White Face saw Jim and Dan touching Tomahawk she tried to reach them, but each time she felt the strong ropes holding on her neck. After a time she stood still and only looked. She had never seen anything like this. To her the man creatures were strangely cunning and powerful. She could not understand this. At first she thought the men might injure Tomahawk, yet he was still standing there. He was standing quiet now, and he was still being rubbed by the human hands. Tomahawk seemed almost comfortable. White Face breathed easier. The blazing look in her eyes softened a little, but not much. She could not get free. Neither could her colt, but it seemed to her that no harm was being done to him. He was standing with his face away from her, standing still, with his head up, puffing a little, but he acted as if he was contented.

If Tomahawk had been two weeks older, and so a month old, he would have had much more of the wild in him. As it was he was but two weeks old and with the right kind of treatment the wild feelings could be quickly trained out of him. But it was quite different with White Face. It was known that she was at least twelve years old and the men knew this was the first time she had ever been captured. She was one of the wildest of wild horses and would so remain. She gave evidence of this when, all at once, she began to fight against the ropes with all of her might. She leaped forward, then lunged backward. She tried to bite the ropes, and in her plunging she floundered to the ground, but sprang up instantly. She looked with blazing eyes at the men around Tomahawk and gave a loud snort. She stamped one of her big hoofs on the sod and looked her defiance. She did not feel that the men were hurting Tomahawk but it was enough that they were restraining him.

The journey to the ranch was slow since, from now on, White Face fought all the way. She had no opportunity to fight the men either with her teeth or her heels, but they saw she would do so instantly if the chance were offered.

It was evening when they reached the ranch. All the other riders had come in and at once there was great interest in White Face and Tomahawk. With both curiosity and admiration for the old mare one of the men walked too close when White Face was led into the ranch yard. She dashed toward the cowboy with her mouth open. The cowboy leaped aside and there was laughter among the men. Jim Arnold said, “She’s a grand old mare. She’s been fighting all the way and she’s still full of fight. Now we got to get her in the corral and tie her up with the little feller. And we got to tie them both. If he can’t get loose, then even if she does, I think she’ll hang around.”

It took considerable time to get White Face into the corral since she fought the men at every turn. They first got Tomahawk inside and tied him, hoping she would go in at once to be with him, but the old mare, seeing the corral and its gate, understood, and was determined not to go in. But at last the men got her into the corral and tied her on the far side from the gate. At first she paid no attention to Tomahawk who was tied in the corral close enough to her so that he could get his milk. White Face stood with her head up looking with fighting eyes at the men. Jim Arnold grinned and said, “She’s saying, ‘If I could only get at you fellers I’d chew you up and spit you out in little pieces.’ She’s plumb unreasonable.”

Two buckets of water were lowered into the corral and also a half bucket of oats so that White Face could reach them.

After supper Dan went out to take a last look at the two prizes, but at Tomahawk in particular. When Dan came up to the gate White Face snorted, but Tomahawk only stood and looked. Dan stood looking through the bars of the gate for a time talking low to both of them. The gate was on the far side from where he stood but Dan did not try to go nearer to White Face. He stood talking low and tried to soothe the old mare with words, but all he got for his trouble were defiant snorts. After a time he went into the house and the old mare stood looking at the light shining through the windows. She only stood still and looked. After some time she saw the light vanish. Then the place was in darkness and all was still.

Tomahawk got hungry and he began to nurse. White Face looked at the darkened house until Tomahawk stopped nursing. She then put her nose down on him and made a motherly sound. Then she began to look at the buckets near by. She put her nose down to a bucket of water, smelled it suspiciously, flipped the water once with her upper lip and began drinking. She drank all the water in one of the buckets, looked up at the dark house for a minute, then put her nose in the other bucket and drank all the water there, also. She was hungry but the feed in the bucket was strange to her. She put her nose down to the oats in the bucket. She had never smelled such feed before, but it had a delicious fragrance. She took a bite in her mouth, chewed it and found it good. She promptly ate all the oats and licked the bottom of the bucket to get every bit of the feed. After this she looked for some time at the dark, shadowy house standing still in the night. She put her nose down on Tomahawk. He seemed to be in good shape and he acted as if he were contented. He was getting sleepy. He dropped his head down and dozed for a time, then following the urge of his nature he promptly lay down beside his mother on the ground, stretched out full length with his head on the ground and fell asleep.

But White Face did not go to sleep. She stood still and she kept her eyes steadily on the darkened ranch house, the place that had now become so dark and quiet.


Early the next morning all the men walked up to the small corral where White Face and Tomahawk stood. They opened the gate and Dan and Jim Arnold walked inside. White Face uttered a loud snort and looked at them defiantly. Jim said, “Well, Old Lady, I see you are as wild as ever and I reckon you’ll stay that way but we’ll be able to tame the little feller anyway.” Jim edged up to the place where Tomahawk’s rope was tied. He unfastened the rope and tied Tomahawk farther away from White Face. Dan held out some brown sugar in one hand while he walked toward Tomahawk.

Tomahawk snorted as he looked intently at Dan walking toward him. Dan held his hand out with the sugar. He got close to Tomahawk and stood talking to him. Tomahawk looked at the outstretched hand. At this time he wanted nothing but milk to drink, yet he was curious as Dan stood holding out the sugar at arm’s length. Tomahawk reached his head out and touched his nose to the sugar in Dan’s palm, snorted, backed away and stood looking. Dan still stood with his arm outstretched. Tomahawk again moved nearer. Dan did not move. Tomahawk looked at him and again he touched the sugar with his tongue, then stepped back and licked his lips.

Dan tossed the sugar in one of the buckets near White Face and he and Jim began to rub Tomahawk. White Face snorted and threw her head about wildly but she did not try to break away. Tomahawk was not as scared now as he had been the day before, and, while he trembled a little, he stood still after jumping about once or twice. He allowed Dan to rub his neck while Jim rubbed his back and hips. White Face uttered a few snorts at first but then she became quiet and only looked with wide eyes at the procedure.

The other men did not come close although it was a great temptation to do so since they wanted to get their hands on the attractive Tomahawk. But they did not want to trouble White Face too much. With smiles and twinkling eyes they watched Dan and Jim getting Tomahawk used to the feel of human hands.

While Jim rubbed Tomahawk he also looked at White Face and the buckets that had been put where she could reach them. Jim saw she had drunk the water and eaten all the oats. He said to Dan and the men, “She has drunk all the water and eaten her oats but my guess is, by her looks, she won’t tame down. But she’ll eat and drink because she knows she’s got this little feller to take care of. We’ll leave her in here for about three weeks so Dan can work with the colt and try to get him tame. After that I think we can tie White Face out on the grass. But we’ll have to tie her with a double rope, and we’ll have plenty of trouble getting her to the grass. And we’ll also tie Tomahawk on a rope so if she does break loose he can’t go with her.”

Jim Arnold stepped back from Tomahawk and looked at White Face. She was a tall, beautiful chestnut sorrel with trim legs and great muscles that rippled under her glossy skin as she began to step nervously about. Jim and the men noted the dapples on a part of her coat in the morning sun. But some of her coat was matted down with dried sweat from the day before. The men knew that many of the wild horses, if captured when three or four or, even five years old, could be tamed, and often they made splendid saddle horses. But now and then there was a wild horse, fully matured, with a fighting spirit that would never be tamed, one that would watch and, no matter how much time had passed in captivity, would, at the least chance, break away for freedom. While Jim Arnold, the man who knew horses, stood and looked at the blazing eyes of White Face he was sure she was the kind that could never be tamed. She had been too long in the wild when captured and she was naturally the fighting kind. He said to the men standing near the gate of the corral, “Well, we’ll keep her here until Tomahawk no longer needs her milk. Then if she’s wild as ever, I’ll let her go free.”

Dan was holding Tomahawk’s halter and rubbing him on top of his withers. Jim and the men saw that Tomahawk submitted to this more quickly than the average two-weeks-old colt. It was plain that he actually liked to have Dan rub his withers. Dan knew where to rub. It was a queer thing about how a colt might stand for rubbing though he couldn’t bear to have anyone touch the end of his nose, and this was true of most grown horses. Not many colts of two weeks would have stood here as Tomahawk did while Dan rubbed the palm of his hand across the top of his withers. All the men knew this. Jim Arnold said, “Dan, he’s a smart little feller and he’s going to make a smart horse. Just keep being easy and careful with him and my guess is that in time you’ll have him following you around like a dog.”

All of a sudden White Face lunged back hard on her rope. She almost sat down in throwing her whole weight against it. She jerked her head and shook it like a wild bucking bronco. She lunged back again and again, and if the rope had not been double she might have broken it. Seeing it held, she whirled, snorted and looked with eyes flashing at Dan rubbing Tomahawk. The men all understood. White Face knew Dan was not harming Tomahawk. It was only that she saw her colt being tamed by the men, and somehow, to her, they were getting him to like them. She wanted him to snort and show fear as she did. It seemed to her that if Tomahawk would do this she might yet get herself loose and so run away with him, wild and free.

The days went by during which White Face and Tomahawk were not once taken from the corral. Plenty of feed and water were given to the fighting old mare and the men were careful when they put water, oats and hay within her reach. They watched her like a hawk, remembering her long, sharp teeth. But these men did not hold this against her. After all they had captured her and her colt. These men were fighters, too, fighters all, because they had to struggle against the cold of winter, the storms of summer, the half-wild longhorn cattle. And they often rode the fighting, hard-bucking broncos. To Jim and the men it seemed quite in order for this old wild mare to fight. Jim said one morning, “We can’t blame her. It’s her nature. She’d be plumb rough on us if she could. She’d chew us up like a dog if she could get her teeth on us but that’s her right. All she wants is to get that colt and run plumb away with him. That’s her way, but we got different plans.”

During the three weeks that went by Dan, to his delight, had tamed Tomahawk considerably and this was plainly disturbing White Face. At the end of this time Dan was so much in favor with Tomahawk that he evidently wanted to be with Dan even more than with White Face, except when he wanted his milk. Each morning Dan would go into the corral, untie Tomahawk and lead him outside.

One morning, near the end of the three weeks, Dan led Tomahawk to the kitchen door of the ranch house and called for Old Ben, the cook, to come out and look. Old Ben came out. Dan said, “Ben, Tomahawk wants to see what’s going on around here.” And to Dan and Old Ben this seemed so. Tomahawk pricked up his ears, looked at Old Ben, then looked around at the yard. Old Ben said, “Now ain’t he the purtiest little horse, him wanting as much as fellers to see everything, I reckon.” Old Ben walked around to the side of Tomahawk and smoothed the hair down on his shoulder and said, “Dan, you’ve made a plumb pet out of him. I don’t reckon we’ve ever had a little colt as purty and smart as he is.”

Jim Arnold and several other men came up. Jim went in the kitchen and brought out some brown sugar in his hand and held it up to Tomahawk. Tomahawk promptly licked up all the sugar, for Dan had already taught him to like it, and Tomahawk was like all horses, old or young, he was fond of sugar. After licking up the sugar he reached out and playfully nipped Jim on the arm. Tomahawk often did this to Dan. This was one of the things a pet colt early learned to do. It was hard to keep from spoiling him. Jim said, “Dan, I reckon we’ll plumb spoil him so when he grows up he’ll want his own way in everything, like a spoiled kid, but he’s a smart little feller and I think he’ll come out all right.” Then Jim added, “Well, fellers, we got a fight on our hands this morning. It’s time we took that wild Old White Face out on the grass and I don’t reckon she’ll appreciate it at all but you fellers get your ropes ready.”

When the men walked up to the corral with their ropes Jim spoke to White Face, “Well, Old Lady, we are going to put you out to eat grass today and we’re going to see that you get to eat grass every day from now on. But by the looks of your eyes I don’t reckon we’ll run right up and pet you. It would be like a feller trying to pet a rattlesnake.”

None but these men, skilled with horses, would have had success with what they were planning to do. But to them there was no horse whatever that they could not handle once it was captured. As they moved toward White Face they were reminded that she was much bigger than the average wild horse.

Dan had already led Tomahawk out and tied him some distance away to a tree on the grassland. White Face was tied with a long double rope on her neck. This rope was arranged so that a man could stand outside the corral and play it out. A man stood outside ready for this. Jim Arnold and Buck Benson now went into the corral and swung their loops over White Face’s head. She dived for Buck with her teeth but he sprang away and the men grinned. Jim and Buck came out of the corral now, holding the ends of their ropes. Other hands took hold of their ropes to help. Then the men holding the long double rope on her neck let it loose and shouted, “She’s loose now! Look out!”

White Face seemed to know. She came running from the corral. The men holding the two looped ropes on her neck dug their boot heels in the ground and held the ropes. As she ran out of the corral two men quickly grabbed the end of the long double rope. White Face tried to charge first one way and then another but the men managed her by pulling the ropes on either side. But they found it a difficult job and they were a considerable time getting her where they wanted her on the grassy plain. They tied the end of the long double rope to a tree, then worked for some time to get the other ropes off her neck. She tried to fight them at every turn with both her teeth and her heels, but the men succeeded with the work.

In the meantime Tomahawk stood some distance away close beside Dan and watched the proceedings. Tomahawk was not afraid, and he looked on in curiosity at the actions of White Face. The men moved back and stood near Dan and Tomahawk.

White Face could now walk about and get all the exercise and grass she needed. At the same time she could come near enough to Tomahawk so that he could get his milk. Some men might have tied White Face and allowed Tomahawk to go free but Jim Arnold used unusual care here. He said, “Unless the old mare breaks loose, Tomahawk will stay to get his milk but if White Face broke loose he would naturally go with her.” The men wanted to be kind to the old mare, as they said, “Because she’s got her little feller and wants to take care of him.”

After standing for a time and looking at White Face all the men, including Dan, saddled their horses and started out to work on the range for the day. Old Ben, the cook, said, “I’ll take a look now and then from the kitchen door to see how White Face and Tomahawk are getting along.”

When evening came and Dan and the men rode in, all had been well. White Face had grazed on the grass during the day and she had several times moved up so Tomahawk could get his milk.

So it was that the summer slipped by. September came over the land. If a colt is born early in the spring he will shed his colt coat in the fall and show his true horse color. This happened to Tomahawk. He had shed his first coat and he was now a beautiful chestnut sorrel with two front white stocking legs, the white clear up to his knees and he had a white, or blaze, face that came from the roots of his ears down over his nose, so that his lips were white.

Each evening Dan led Tomahawk up to the ranch yard and rubbed him and talked to him. Tomahawk was not afraid of any of the men and he would nip them now and then playfully as they put their hands on him. And he had such good teeth now that he could pinch decidedly, but the men only laughed at his antics. Tomahawk had become the pet of all the men, including Old Ben. But it was seen now that Tomahawk knew Dan from all the others and he would come up to Dan first. At times, when Dan held Tomahawk on a long rope, he would stand off a distance while Tomahawk stood among the men. Often, at such times, Tomahawk seemed to miss Dan. He would look around, and seeing Dan a little distance away he would kick up his heels, run up to Dan and stand beside him while looking back at the men. While he could be handled by any of the men, Dan was so much with him, working with him, giving him sugar and biscuits from the kitchen, that Tomahawk made it plain that he wanted to be with Dan. It was interesting to watch Tomahawk eat a biscuit. He munched on it with his head moving in regular nods after the manner of a grown horse trying to chew a piece of bread when his teeth find little to chew on.

But tame and “sociable” as Tomahawk now was he had already shown that he had the fighting quality of Old White Face. There were other colts that sometimes came up to the ranch with their mothers. One of these colts was older and heavier than Tomahawk. One evening when the men came in they saw this big colt come up to Tomahawk and bite him. Tomahawk laid back his ears and ran for that colt with open mouth. The big colt ran off a little way, stopped, and looked back in curiosity at Tomahawk.

While the men stood looking at the two colts they saw a large bull calf standing only a little away staring dumbly at Tomahawk. The bull calf seemed to think Tomahawk should be chased away. The big calf suddenly ran at Tomahawk to butt him with his short horns. Tomahawk saw the animal coming at him. He turned and let fly both hind feet against the calf, then whirled and set his small teeth at the root of the calf’s tail. The bull calf ran with a loud bellow. Tomahawk stopped and looked at it as he stamped a front foot on the ground and snorted. The men all laughed and their eyes twinkled in admiration.

Dan called Tomahawk. He turned his head, looked at Dan, then came trotting up. The men came up to Tomahawk, rubbed him, patted him and told him he was “a fine fighting little horse.” Presently they all started to the house for supper and Tomahawk followed Dan like a dog. Tomahawk wanted his brown sugar or biscuit or both, and he was never disappointed in this.

That night, at the supper table, Jim Arnold said, as he had once before, that since White Face was already getting on in years and since she was as wild as ever, it would not pay to try to saddle her or try to tame her, and he had decided to let her go free. For a considerable time past, at Jim’s suggestion, Dan had tied Tomahawk alone in a small corral at night. This precaution was taken so that if White Face broke loose some time Tomahawk could not follow her. Jim went on talking. “White Face has seen for a long time that we have been weaning Tomahawk away from her and she can’t understand it. She’s as wild as ever and she’s an old fighting mare, but even now, with us getting Tomahawk to forget about her, she’d fight for him if she had him with her out on the range and something tackled him. I think she’d fight for him till she died if necessary. That old mare has always been plumb game to fight for her rights. And now, although we’ve got Tomahawk to give all his attention to us and none to her, she’d take him away if she could and she’d go on fighting for him. So I aim to do the best I can with her. She’s as wild as ever. I appreciate her and I’m going to turn her loose in the morning and let her do what she wants.”

The next morning Tomahawk was tied securely in the corral. Jim purposely left the gate of the corral open. The men went out to the tree where White Face was tied. They had to rope and throw her to get her free of the rope on her neck. Then she found herself free. She sprang up, ran away for a quarter of a mile, stopped and looked back. She stood still for a short time, just stood still and looked at the group of men standing on the prairie watching her. Suddenly she let out a wild nicker to Tomahawk. It was a loud, piercing call. Again, and still the third time she let out a loud, piercing nicker. But Tomahawk only pricked up his ears and looked out in mild curiosity.

White Face went no farther but she did not nicker again. She only stood there. Jim Arnold said, “Look at that now. She don’t want to give Tomahawk up although he’s satisfied with us. She can’t understand. We’ll leave him tied in the corral today and Old Ben can keep an eye on what happens. I think she’ll go away in time.”

Jim gave Old Ben his instructions to see what happened, then Jim, Dan and all the men rode out on the range for the day’s work.

Old Ben went on with his morning’s work in the kitchen for some time but, now and then, he would pause to look out at the corral where Tomahawk was tied. All at once he saw White Face come up to the corral gate and he heard her whinnying to Tomahawk. Tomahawk raised his head and looked at her but he seemed only mildly interested. White Face looked quickly toward the house, but seeing none of the men, she walked into the corral, and Old Ben saw her put her nose on Tomahawk. Old Ben heard her making low, whinnying sounds. He knew what she wanted. She wanted her colt to come with her but Tomahawk could not, for he was tied. White Face walked out of the corral, again looked at the silent house and then looked off across the plain in the direction that the men had taken that day. Again she went back in the corral and in her own way talked to Tomahawk. But Old Ben saw he paid little attention to her. He would look at her when she put her nose on him but it was plain to Old Ben that Tomahawk was completely tamed, not feeling at all about his freedom as White Face did. And he was the more contented because he was now living on grass and oats.

As the hours went by White Face hovered around not far from the corral. She would go out on the prairie and nibble a little grass then she would come back, go in the corral and “talk” to Tomahawk.

At noon Old Ben went out toward the corral with two buckets. He was carrying both oats and water. When White Face saw Old Ben she ran away some distance, stopped and looked. She saw him go in and set the buckets down for Tomahawk, then she saw Tomahawk put his nose down as if eating, and she saw Old Ben rub him and go all over him with his hands. She also saw that Tomahawk seemed to be pleased. Old Ben got another bucket of water and set it outside the corral. He then went back into the house and sat on a stool and watched from a kitchen window. He saw White Face come up near the corral gate. She stood for a time looking at Tomahawk. He was contentedly drinking water from the bucket. White Face looked at the house, looked searchingly but saw nothing. She turned with her face toward Tomahawk for a time, then Old Ben saw her head drop. It dropped low and she stood as he had never seen her. She stood like a horse that had been driven hard all day, one that was very, very tired. But Old Ben, who had long known horses, knew that White Face was not tired. He understood this unusual old wild mare as only an old horseman could understand. He said under his breath, “Now, ain’t that too dog-gone bad. That old fighting mare’s plumb bogged down feeling us fellers have changed Tomahawk somehow so he’d rather be with us than with her!”

Old Ben waited and watched. White Face stood for some time in that same position. Then Old Ben saw her walk slowly into the corral, look at Tomahawk for a minute, and turn and walk away. She did not drink of the water left outside the corral. She did not run but walked away, walked away slowly, with her head down, and she kept on walking. Old Ben went outside to watch.

White Face walked on and on. She did not quicken her pace nor did she raise her head. On and on she walked. Old Ben turned and looked at Tomahawk. He was quietly and contentedly munching his oats.

Old Ben looked at White Face as her form grew smaller and smaller in the distance, and, at last, he saw her disappear in the distance toward the west. As Old Ben saw her disappear he said, “Now look at that! She can’t understand.” Old Ben walked back to the corral where Tomahawk stood. He walked into the corral and stood looking at Tomahawk’s eyes and he began to talk. He said, “Tomahawk, your old fighting mammy has gone but you won’t notice. Now, from the way you tackled that colt that come at you, and that bull calf, too, we know you have got the fighting blood of your wild mammy. My guess is you are going to be mighty faithful to Dan. I believe when you grow up you would fight for Dan if the time ever came when that was needed. Anyway you’re a smart colt and an awful purty one. We’ll see how you act when you’re a grown horse because you are going to make a powerful big horse in time.”


The cold of the winters and the heat of the summers passed until the spring when Tomahawk was five years old. White Face had been seen each spring and summer, as wild as ever, with the other wild horses, but it was noted that she had no more colts. As Jim Arnold had said, “Tomahawk was her last and she left a great horse in him.”

Tomahawk had been no trouble at all to break to the saddle. He had accepted this as he accepted all else that Dan seemed to desire of him. Dan was now eighteen, tall, lean, with dark, alert eyes like his brother. He had not ridden Tomahawk much the summer before, but now that he was five years old Dan could ride him each day. Tomahawk had reached his full height and weight, the latter being well over thirteen hundred pounds.

Tomahawk was as beautiful a horse as Jim Arnold and his men had ever looked upon. Tomahawk generally stood with his head high, his ears cocked forward, his large, dark eyes looking at the scene before him. He wanted nothing better than to know Dan was on his back, Dan with his guiding hand and quiet words. It was enough that Dan was riding on his back and talking to him, and it seemed that Dan often talked to him out on the range.

Tomahawk had now learned something of the dangers on the range. Dan had ridden him on the range the summer before when Tomahawk met with one of the dangers—a rattlesnake. He and Dan were passing some bunch grass when the rattler gave his hideous buzzing sound and struck for one of Tomahawk’s white front legs. The snake missed by an inch and Tomahawk leaped aside so quickly Dan was almost unseated. After that day the buzzing of a rattlesnake struck terror to Tomahawk. He did not forget. Nature was kind in this.

Dan had broken Tomahawk to both the bridle and the rope halter, but when this was done he used only the rope halter on Tomahawk for the day’s riding. He knew this was more comfortable for his horse. Tomahawk learned to turn instantly in either direction when Dan pulled the rope to guide him one way or pressed it against Tomahawk’s neck to turn him the other. Dan simply held the end of his short rope as he rode along. Even if it slipped from his hand and he dropped it, that did not matter. At a word Tomahawk would stop while Dan dismounted and picked up the rope. This had happened a number of times. Tomahawk would remain standing alone if Dan dismounted and left him. But Dan seldom went away more than a few feet. There was too much danger to a man on foot from the longhorn cattle.

It was not often that longhorn cattle charged a man on a horse but if they saw a man on foot he could easily be in danger of his life. Now and then an outlaw, as the beast was called, might charge a man on a horse. The outlaw might be a steer, or it might be a longhorn bull, savage beyond his kind, or a cow. One of the most dangerous ever known was a certain black longhorn cow already well known to the men on the range. The horns of this animal were fully six feet long from tip to tip. The spring before she had charged a cowboy on his horse, and during the summer two other horsemen had barely escaped her as she suddenly charged out of the brush at them as they were riding near.

One day, only a week before, the black outlaw cow charged one of Jim Arnold’s men on his horse. The man was riding in a wild brush-covered region known as the Brushland Bottoms. The vicious black cow charged in the brush so quickly she struck the small horse, knocked him back on his haunches, and the rider fell behind. The cowboy had no weapon with him. He quickly got up a small tree and set up a shout for help. Two riders, not far away, heard him and came to his rescue. The small horse had, fortunately, gotten away with but one sharp cut on his shoulder. The cowboys rode home that night and reported to Jim Arnold what had happened. Jim warned all the men to watch out for the black cow, and especially if they were riding in the brush or even close to it where she might be hidden. In their work on the range the men might be together in twos or threes, but, at times, the riders would become widely separated and a man might ride for hours alone.

This happened to Dan one day. He had left two of the other riders during the forenoon to see if there were any new-born calves near the Brushland Bottoms. He intended to look along the brush for a time then he would return to a point on the north later. There he expected to join the other men and late in the afternoon they would ride to the ranch together.

Dan rode along with Tomahawk at a walk. Dan, for the moment, had his eyes open for nothing but calves. He rode to the top of a hump in the land where Tomahawk stopped, holding his head high. As usual at such times Dan’s alert eyes took in everything before him.

Dan saw a number of longhorn steers off to the right. They threw up their heads and looked. But when they saw only a man on a horse they looked only once, then went on with their grazing. He spoke low to Tomahawk, patted him on his neck, and Tomahawk walked down the rise of ground and approached the brushland covered with tall thick-set bushes and here and there small scrub trees pushing their tops above.

Dan rode up alongside the tall brush looking for calves, but he had not gone more than a few rods when he saw a lane in the brush a little ahead. Tomahawk stopped here and Dan raised himself up in the stirrups and looked along the lane as far as he could from his position. He saw nothing unusual and was about to turn Tomahawk away and keep to the open land when, all at once, there was a loud crash from the brush in the rear, and the big black outlaw cow charged at Tomahawk. It all happened in an instant.

Tomahawk leaped aside quickly, almost unseating Dan. But quick as Tomahawk had been, one of the outlaw’s horns cut him in the flesh of the hip. Tomahawk lashed out with his hind feet and caught the old cow on her side with one hind hoof. The horse whirled and, before Dan could think, Tomahawk, with ears laid back, seized the black cow with his teeth at the root of her tail. With a roar of rage she turned to attack.

Dan shouted at Tomahawk and prodded him with his boot heels to try to make him run away. But Tomahawk, for once, seemed to ignore Dan’s commands. With only the rope halter on his head he leaped aside, evaded the cow again as she rushed past, and let fly with his hind feet and struck her in the ribs. Dan was now lashing Tomahawk with the end of the rope, shouting at him so loudly that Tomahawk gave in and leaped away to the grassland above. The outlaw cow plunged after them a little distance with horns lowered. Still pounding Tomahawk with the rope and shouting to him, Dan got him well away, then told him to stop. Tomahawk whirled and looked back. The horse was trembling and his eyes were blazing. He stamped a big front hoof on the ground, snorted and looked defiantly at the black outlaw. He seemed to be thinking in the cowboy language, “If I had my way here I’d show you. I’d chew you up and spit you out in little pieces!” Tomahawk snorted again and he began to step nervously about, his head high, his blazing eyes on the outlaw cow. Dan urged him still farther away and again let him stop, and he and Tomahawk looked back at the enemy. Dan patted him affectionately and said, “Quiet, Tomahawk! I’m going to get off and look at your cut.” Dan swung his leg from the saddle and stood on the ground and looked at Tomahawk’s wound. It was not bad. The sharp horn had only cut through the skin but the wound was bleeding. Dan mounted, sat in the saddle and looked at the black beast in anger. He said aloud, “Doggone your ornery hide. If I only had my gun along I’d put you down permanent right now. I see how it is. And from now on I’ll have my gun along.” He looked at the way Tomahawk held his head up, his eyes defiant. Dan grinned in admiration. He gently patted Tomahawk on one of his shoulders and said aloud to him, “Now, Tomahawk, I’m plumb proud of you. And Jim and all the fellers will be proud of you, too, when I tell them. You’ve got the fighting blood of your old mammy. That black outlaw there is unusual and dangerous. But you are unusual, too. But you don’t have to take chances with that beast. Us fellers will take care of that with our guns. We’ll make it easy on you after this. And we got to watch for her from now on. She’s so cunning she’s right on top of a feller before he knows it.”

The black outlaw raised her head high and took one last look at Dan and Tomahawk. She snorted once, turned around, crashed back in the depths of the tall brush and disappeared.

Dan turned Tomahawk toward the ranch. He thought to himself that he understood the habits of this dangerous cow. She was in the habit of hiding in the brush during the day and doing her grazing at night. There were other parts of the range, too, where she could hide in the brush, other places where there was tall brush, stretches of ground on the land where it sloped down to the heads of the many ravines that cut through the hills to the valley land. “No one can tell,” he thought, “where this black cow might be in hiding while the men ride about here and there on the range.” He thought that if one of the men on one of the smaller horses had been in his place today the result might have been different. Another horse might not have jumped as quickly as Tomahawk had done. A smaller horse might have been knocked down by the black cow’s quick charge. The danger was that the longhorn cow would give no warning as it charged from these brushy places.

Dan rode on to the point where he had expected to see some of the other men but he saw no sign of them. He saw bunches of longhorn cattle here and there, and he saw a number of calves with them. He turned Tomahawk and rode to the top of a high hill. Here he stopped and looked in all directions. But he saw no sign of any of his friends. The air was still as Dan looked at the rolling, rough land around him. He saw low ridges and, here and there, the tops of the trees lining a ravine that dipped down to the lowland of the valley. Dan seldom felt lonely on the range but after what had happened to Tomahawk he had a feeling of uneasiness because he did not have his rifle. He knew he would bring the rifle every day from now on. And he would be careful not to ride Tomahawk too near the thick brush at any point whatever.

With this in his mind Dan thought, “The next time I aim to see that creature before she sees me. But it looks as if it will be like hunting for a wolf hiding in the brush. The wolf generally sees first but, now and then, the wolf is unaware and the man takes him by surprise.”

Dan turned Tomahawk in the direction of the ranch and said aloud to him, “You’re not cut much. It was my fault. I won’t let it happen to you again. We’ll keep a little distance away from the brush and from now on I’ll be watching like a hawk.”


When Dan Arnold rode in at the ranch that evening and told his brother and the other men what had happened they were surprised. And when they came up and looked at the cut on Tomahawk’s hip they were angered, too. Jim looked at the cut on Tomahawk’s hip, smoothed his glossy coat with his hand and said, “Now, I not only want you fellers to bring down that old outlaw cow but I’ll give twenty-five dollars to the feller that does it. But remember what Dan has said, ‘Don’t ride in the brush even with your guns.’ Ride along beside it. Otherwise you might find you and your horse down before you could think. All our horses are smaller than Tomahawk. Keep outside the brush and take time. Don’t take chances with any of the horses or yourselves.”

Jim came up to Tomahawk’s head, scratched his neck and said, “Well, Tomahawk, so you went right back at the outlaw like a wildcat! Now ain’t you the finest horse! We’re all plumb proud of you.”

Dan said, “I never saw anything like it. I think if Tomahawk was out all alone and that old black cow tackled him he would fight until one of them went down and I don’t believe that one would be Tomahawk.”

Jim was still scratching Tomahawk’s neck. He said, “Tomahawk won’t have to do that. The rifle will be a heap easier. Now, Tomahawk,” Jim went on, “ain’t you the fightingest horse. You got the fighting blood of Old White Face in you. You are plumb kind and gentle with all us fellers but you are plumb sour on such as that black outlaw. I don’t reckon you and her could ever be seen playing around together like. You’re not one to try to go up and smell her gentle like. And from what Dan says I reckon you may have changed your eating habits, you taking a sudden notion today you wanted some beef to eat. I reckon you got a little of it, too, although seeing you got it at the root of the tail I reckon you must have been disgusted at the toughness of that same beef. But you won’t have to eat any more of it. It’s plumb ripe for the buzzards right now. And we aim to see that they get it.”

The men were admiring Tomahawk now. Dan had taken the saddle off and he stood loose with only the short rope hanging down from his halter. With the palms of their hands two of the men smoothed the hair down on Tomahawk’s neck, his glossy sides, and his long, trim legs, down to his big hoofs. They also handled his mane and his long sorrel tail. They looked carefully through his mane and tail to see that all the hairs were straightened out. All this time Tomahawk stood looking out on the plain. He did not know what the men were saying while they talked. He did not know they were praising him and condemning the outlaw cow. Tomahawk felt a stinging on his hip where the horn had cut, but he was a fighting horse and paid no attention to such things. Jim Arnold had put some grease on the wound to keep the flies off and to ease the stinging some. Old Ben was also out here with the men and he too had been rubbing Tomahawk. He was, as he said, “Proud as a peacock of Tomahawk, him fighting right back at that outlaw cow.”

After supper that night when all the men had gone to sleep, Dan lay awake on his bunk for some time thinking about the dangerous black cow. The next day he and Jim were going to ride out together to look near the brush and Dan was taking his rifle along this time.

Jim had said that every man was to be on the watch for the outlaw cow, but there was much work to be done on this range for Jim Arnold owned thousands of cattle and it was impossible for all his men to spend much time on this hunt at once.

Accordingly the next day the men rode out to their various duties, but when night came not a man had seen the outlaw, and Dan and Jim had had no better luck.

During the following week both Dan and Jim spent much of each day riding near tall brushy spots at many places, and always with rifles at hand. But nothing happened.

The black outlaw was like some other characters in these days of the Old West. She was as cunning as she was unusual in keeping out of sight. Yet this was not difficult for the black cow or any other predatory animal on this vast range country. The Brushland Bottoms was not the only place where she could easily keep out of sight. Many deep ravines, with their steep sides of trees and brush sloping down to the dark recess of the woods below, also offered an excellent cover.

The days and weeks passed and not once did any of the men see the black outlaw. The summer passed and fall came and still the dangerous cow was not seen. Then one evening a rider came in with some news. He said the black longhorn had rushed at his horse from some brush. It all happened so quickly the cowboy had no chance to do anything. Fortunately, the horse was a little away from the brush and he leaped and ran away so hard the cowboy had difficulty in getting him in hand. When he did he turned and looked back. The black cow had disappeared. The cowboy, having his rifle, urged the horse back toward the brush but when he got a little nearer the horse began to leap and buck so wildly that the cowboy gave up in disgust. He rode a short distance away where he sat on the horse and watched for more than an hour but he saw not the least sign of the black outlaw. So it happened that when winter closed down, the old cow was still successful in keeping out of sight.


Jim Arnold was an unusually able ranch man. Many ranchers did not put up meadow hay for the winter since this was a hard task in these days. Jim, however, had a stack of hay at the ranch stables each fall, against the time when cold weather should come. The horses, however, much preferred the buffalo grass on the range, with its strange life-giving qualities. Buffalo grass was the only kind that “cured” on the ground and so kept its nourishing qualities all winter. Horses could keep in good shape grazing on this grass out on the range during the winter months.

Tomahawk was six years old and in excellent condition when the next winter fell, and he was allowed to go as he pleased with the other range horses. It was not Dan’s wish to coddle him. Some of the horses did not come in to the ranch at night unless they happened to be only a short distance away, or unless an unusually cold wave struck the range. A few of the older horses, however, had been coming in every night and Tomahawk came in with them. The stables were always open so that they could go in or out any time they chose. At times the horses would wander miles away out on the range looking for the richest buffalo grass. But no matter how far Tomahawk and a few of the others ranged they would come galloping into the ranch toward evening. But most of the horses would seek shelter, where night found them, in clumps of brush or timber at the mouth of some ravine.

It happened that thus far this winter had been what was known as an “open” one. That is, there had been but little cold, and only a few light snows had fallen. Not often, but now and then, such a winter came in the West.

The months had now passed and it was almost March. Not much cold was expected for the season. Yet the cattlemen knew it might come. The weather in the West was never dependable. Even in late March a storm of cold and snow might sweep down from the north and on rare occasions one came as late as April.

On this day in February the horses drifted farther away than usual. It was near sundown. Tomahawk raised his head suddenly and looked across the plain toward the distant ranch. He snorted once when the thought came to him that he should at once start for the ranch and Dan. Always Dan and the men greeted him there and talked to him a short while before going in to the house and to bed for the night.

Tomahawk snorted again and started away at a trot, then he stopped and looked back at the other horses. All of them except one old horse were walking toward some timber and tall brush near a stream. The evening was mild and even the few old horses, that were no longer ridden much, did not seem to want to go home on this night. As Tomahawk stood looking, the lone horse who seemed about to follow also turned and followed the others toward the shelter. Tomahawk again turned his head toward home. This time he uttered a low sound. He wanted to go back to the ranch, but not alone. He turned and looked at the horses until he saw them stop in the brush where they stood looking at him. He nickered to them but none of them moved. Tomahawk galloped quickly up to them and stood near looking at them. He made an anxious sound which meant, “Why don’t some of you come along? It’s time to go home!” But they stood still—just looking at him. Tomahawk went up to put his nose on a horse, wanting some action. The horse squealed and nipped with his teeth at Tomahawk. Tomahawk snorted and drew back. He looked at them for a little and again snorted. At last, seeing they had all decided to stay here, he went in the brush with the others, but kept his head up and still looked out in the direction of the distant ranch for some time. He seemed to be thinking to himself, “I can’t understand why none of them want to go but seeing they don’t I’ll stay here this time with them.”

After a time, however, Tomahawk became restless. He was not satisfied to remain here. He walked out in the open, looked across the land, and again came back to try to arouse some of the horses to action. He put his nose to another horse but the horse squealed and tried to bite. Tomahawk reached with his teeth for the horse and both he and the horse squealed. There was a brief commotion in the brush, then again they all became quiet. This decided Tomahawk. He got well into the brush and stood still with them.

The time passed here until midnight. The horses were all standing with their heads down, resting. Dark clouds had now filled the sky and the night was inky black. A chill wind from the north was blowing with a hissing sound through the naked brush, and the horses stood huddled close together with their tails toward the wind. A cow, with the thick, tough, hairy hide on her head and shoulders, will face the cold wind, but a horse always turns his broad tail toward it.

Suddenly Tomahawk and all the horses raised their heads quickly. They had heard the wild, weird howl of a timber wolf to the north. They listened for a time but they did not again hear the howl of the wolf, a lone beast passing in the night.

Then a sharp blast of wind swept down, so cold that every horse raised his head in concern. And this blast was only the first. Colder and sharper the wind blew. The horses began to crowd against each other nervously in the black darkness when all at once a blast of snow came down with the wind, and the cold was so intense it cut them like a knife. The horses snorted and milled about in the brush, when a blast of knifing wind and blinding snow drove them from their shelter. They ran but a short distance when the appalling storm enveloped them with its blinding icy clutches. Following their instinct the horses struck out, running blindly before the storm. On and on they ran. They became separated and it was each horse for himself.

Tomahawk had never been caught out in a storm like this. He followed his instinct which told him to run on and on for shelter—anything that would protect him from the danger which had so suddenly come upon him. He saw nothing but the black darkness and he felt nothing but the snow and knifing cold.

On and on he ran toward the south, running before the storm down the long open valley. He ran on and on for miles until he was almost exhausted. Suddenly he felt something strike him in the face. He ducked his head and plunged on when he ran against a tree with his shoulder and was knocked sidewise. He sprang aside and ran on again when all at once he found himself in a tangle of brush so dense it stopped him. Puffing for breath he pushed on through the thicket and suddenly fell down into a place where he found a sudden lull in the wind. Getting to his feet he stood up, trembling and frightened. By blind chance he had stumbled over the steep bank of a creek, the north side of which was covered with tall, dense brush. Tomahawk stood trembling under the precipitous bank that gave him some relief from the stinging wind, but he was very cold.

Here he waited. When morning came the roaring of the freakish storm went down and after a time Tomahawk could hear only the sullen sounds of the wind blowing through the brush on top of the bank. He stood in snow that reached up to his body. When daylight came here there were only a few light clouds floating restlessly through the sky, but it was bitter cold.

Tomahawk plunged through the snow and up the sloping creek bank on the opposite side. After pushing through the thickets on the south side he found himself standing on an open valley. Snow lay everywhere on the ground as far as Tomahawk could see. But he had no more than come out in the open than he saw two of the old range horses that he had been with, not far away, in a shelter of brush. But it was the scene toward which the horses were looking that surprised Tomahawk more than the sight of his two old friends.

Not far away on the open land, where Tomahawk and the other two horses were standing, there was a house, with a stable and a stack of hay, but what made the horses stand so still was that they were watching two men moving about the place there on the snow-covered ground.

After looking for a time at the house, one old horse, being very hungry, started forward toward the two men moving about near the haystack. The other old horse followed and Tomahawk came along but he kept some distance behind. Then the horses all stopped and waited to see what the men would do.

These two men were the unusual kind known among ranch men as “nesters,” that is, they were farmers who, as others of their kind, had come to a rich valley to till the soil. They looked at the three horses, but instantly both men had eyes only for Tomahawk. He was standing with his head up, his ears cocked forward, looking at them. One of the men exclaimed, “Look at that, Abe, stray horses! No doubt they have been driven here by the storm.” The other man, known as Lon, said, “Two of them are old and don’t amount to much but if we could get that big chestnut sorrel, he might make a fine extra horse to plow with this spring. If anybody comes for him we’ll tell how he got here. Probably no one will ever come.”

Abe got a pitchfork and began pulling hay from the snow-covered haystack. He pulled out enough to make a small pile and said, “Lon, I tell you what. The stray horses are hungry and the ground is so covered with snow, if we feed them maybe we can get our hands on that big sorrel.”

The two men walked away from the hay and went in the house and stood inside looking out of a window. The sun was shining brightly and the frost sparkled like diamonds on the snow.

The two old horses began to eat the hay ravenously. Tomahawk gave a snort and he walked up to the hay and began to eat. He took a big mouthful from the pile and chewed on the hay while he turned his head and looked toward the house.

The men did not try to catch the horses at this time but let them alone. A little later they went to the stable, got their two big work horses and led them down to the near-by creek. They broke the ice with an ax and let the horses drink. Tomahawk and the two range horses looked on from a distance. When the two men had led their horses back to the stable, and had again gone into the house, Tomahawk and the two range horses went down to the water and drank. All that day Tomahawk and the two old horses stood near the haystack and ate all they wanted.

At last night fell with the stars shining on the snow-covered landscape. The two old horses stood near the haystack for shelter and Tomahawk moved close to them. He closed his eyes and dozed a little in the darkness, but often he awakened. He missed the men where he had always lived, and especially he missed Dan. He missed Dan’s words and Dan’s hands scratching his neck.

When morning came the two men saw Tomahawk and the other two horses eating from the stack. The men took their time about getting their hands on Tomahawk. They would be gentle with him. The result was that on the third day both the men had got their hands on Tomahawk and rubbed him. On this day they brought out a bucket of oats and held it before him. Tomahawk smelled the oats and they smelled so delicious he wanted them at once. The men talked to him and moved toward the stable. Tomahawk followed them into the stable where they put the oats in a feed box and let him eat.

The days slipped by. Spring came and the green grass began to spread out over the valley. Tomahawk was now tied in the stable each night where he was given some oats. A little later he and the two work horses were tied, with long picket ropes, where they could eat the grass, but each night Tomahawk and the work horses were taken back, given a feed of oats, then tied out for the night on the grass. The two range horses were allowed to go free and one night they disappeared, not to return.

It was about time for the men to begin the spring work when late one evening a lone rider, a stranger to the men, rode up on a small horse and said he wanted to spend the night. This man, tall and very slim, was a notorious character known as Slim Bill. The farmers saw nothing wrong in him and offered him a night’s lodging. Slim Bill took the bridle and saddle from his jaded horse and dropped them on the ground. He also took the spurs from his tall boots and tossed them on the ground near the saddle. He then tied his horse with a long rope out on the grass for the night. Slim Bill looked quickly at Tomahawk tied out on the grass, but he was careful not to comment on his size and beauty. He said nothing at all, but the instant he saw Tomahawk, Slim Bill’s mind was made up.

After supper that night the two farmers talked a little with Slim Bill but the latter saw to it that it was only small talk, about the weather mainly, and a short time later the two farmers went to bed in their bunks, and Slim Bill, at his own insistence, spread his blanket on the floor. He said this was quite all right as he could sleep well. He took off only his tall cowhide boots, then he lay down and put a part of his blanket over him.

In a short time both the farmers were sound asleep, but not Slim Bill. He had reason to keep awake for he was on the “dodge” from the law. Slim Bill had come from the south where he was one of a gang of notorious horse rustlers. He was heading north at this time, trying to put as much distance as possible between him and those he knew were on his trail from the south. Tomahawk did not know that Slim Bill was thinking he was just the horse he needed and although Slim Bill did not know whether Tomahawk had ever been ridden, yet he believed that he had.

After nearly two hours had gone by, Slim Bill sat up. He heard both the farmers breathing deeply in sleep. As quietly as a cat he got up on his sock feet, picked up his boots and hat and walked outside. He came to his saddle and bridle. He pulled on his boots hastily, picked up his bridle and saddle and made his way to the small tree to which Tomahawk’s rope was tied. Slim Bill worked slowly and carefully. Tomahawk was a little afraid, but not much. He shied a little at first but the low, soft words of Slim Bill reassured him. Slim Bill got Tomahawk close to the tree and tied him short. He then put the saddle and bridle on him and untied the rope from the tree. He took a chance and swung up in the saddle. Tomahawk started walking away. Slim Bill allowed him to walk for a distance until he thought the men would not hear, then he kicked Tomahawk in the sides. Tomahawk was startled and leaped forward at a gallop. For the first time, when Slim Bill dug his heels into Tomahawk’s sides, he knew he had forgotten his spurs, but Tomahawk leaped forward so quickly at the touch that Slim Bill decided not to take the chance of going back for his spurs. Anyway, he had a leather quirt, or short whip, which had been left on the saddle horn, so that he thought he could get all the speed possible out of Tomahawk whenever he grew tired and tried to slow up.

All that night Tomahawk’s captor put him at a gallop. As the time went on and Tomahawk grew tired and tried to slow up he felt, each time, the sharp sting of the whip on his shoulders and he would leap forward with a new burst of speed.

It was nearly morning when Slim Bill allowed Tomahawk to drink at a small stream. Sweating, and breathing hard, he put his nose in the water and drank as he had never done before, but it seemed to him he had only begun to slake his thirst when his head was jerked up by the iron bit in his mouth and he again felt the sting of the whip on his shoulder. And again he plunged forward.

Tomahawk was goaded on until noon of that day when Slim Bill came to a small stream. He let Tomahawk stop and drink some of the water but not half as much as Tomahawk wanted. Again came the sharp slap of the whip and Tomahawk galloped on. Now and then he was allowed to walk but not for long.

It was nearly dark when Slim Bill came to a clump of trees at the base of a hill where a spring gurgled out of the rocks. Tomahawk’s once bright sorrel coat was covered with sweat and foam, and he was heaving for breath. He was allowed to put his head down to the spring and drink but again he got only half as much as he wanted. Slim Bill rode him off some distance and tied a long rope around his neck, then fastened the other end to a tree where he expected Tomahawk to graze on the surrounding grass. Slim Bill then removed the bridle and saddle from Tomahawk and carried them some distance away where he dropped them on the ground. He took some pieces of jerked beef, which he carried in one of the saddle pockets, seated himself on the ground and began to eat. A little later the night fell and Slim Bill rolled himself in his blanket and went to sleep.

The night was still and the stars were shining brightly. For some time Tomahawk was too exhausted to graze. He stood with his head down drawing in long breaths, and resting. But in him was an iron constitution and after a time he felt much better and began to graze. The lush grass was covered with a heavy dew and the water with the grass was like wine to Tomahawk’s blood. He ate for some time, then lay down and rested for a considerable time. Feeling much refreshed he got up and began eating again of the dewy grass.

He had grazed for some time when he suddenly looked up. He saw three horses walk out from a clump of trees into the open and start across the valley. They saw Tomahawk and stopped and looked at him. Tomahawk made low, friendly sounds to them. One of the horses started walking toward him and the other two followed. Tomahawk walked toward them as far as his rope would allow. When only a few feet away the three horses stopped and looked curiously at Tomahawk. For a few seconds the horses and Tomahawk stood still, looking at one another in the still night. The horse nearest to Tomahawk pricked up his ears and looked toward a darker shadow on the ground not far away. A little breeze rustled through the grass and the horse got the scent of the sleeping man. The horse kept looking. The other two horses saw the dark object and they, too, got the scent of the sleeping man. These three were old range horses that had been ridden by men for years; sometimes these men had given them hard treatment. The nearest horse raised his head and looked frightened. He recognized the man smell and to him this meant possible capture, sharp gouging spurs, and whips. It was the same with the other two horses. They all looked at the dark shadow with their ears cocked forward. They knew that they were free and the man could not catch them. Knowing they were free they suddenly seemed to take pleasure in a closer investigation of the sleeping man.

One of the horses walked a little nearer to the dark object and snorted loudly. The dark form of the man moved in the starlight. Then he suddenly sat up. The horse jumped back. The man got to his feet, and when the horses saw this they uttered loud snorts and galloped away. Seeing them running away Tomahawk was in a sudden frenzy to get free and follow them. He was standing at the end of his rope. He whirled and lunged back with all his weight and power. The rope snapped at the tree, letting him fall back on his haunches. He leaped to his feet as his captor came running toward him, and raced after the running horses. The long rope on Tomahawk’s neck trailed on the ground and, now and then, he stepped on it and was a little impeded, but he quickly recovered his stride and ran on. He galloped ahead until he caught up with the other horses and passed them, and still he ran on and on.

The long rope dragging was as nothing to him. He wished only to get far away from the man who had so punished him. But there was a thought back somewhere in his mind—a thought that he wanted to get to Dan. He had been lonesome since that day when he ran with the storm. As he ran on he saw that the earth around him was much like the range he had always known. He saw a valley ahead in the still night, with small clumps of trees standing here and there and on his right lay a long line of hills bordering the valley. The sod under his feet seemed as natural as that on which he had grazed and galloped all his life, yet somehow this was not the same world to him.

He traveled for a long time until he began to feel more secure. Arriving at a small stream he walked to the shallow water and drank. He raised his head and drew a long breath. He felt very comfortable. He could now get all the water he wanted. He looked around for a brief time and drank again. Then, standing with his forefeet in the water, he looked up the stream and listened. He heard sounds some distance up the valley, sounds that he recognized—those of a horse blowing through his nostrils. As he listened he heard other sounds that made him know there were several horses. And, being curious about those of his own kind, he walked out on the valley and started forward in that direction. In a short time he came to a thin belt of trees that reached from the stream out onto the valley. He could now hear more plainly the sounds made by the horses but he was careful. He stopped in a clump of trees and looked before him. He saw many bushes ahead and a number of horses grazing beyond them.

The stars were still shining but there were now a few clouds moving lazily through the sky. Tomahawk walked out in the open toward some horses grazing near the clumps of brush, and stood still. Several of the horses saw him. They raised their heads quickly and snorted. At this other horses, hearing the sounds, raised their heads and looked.

Some distance away, beyond some dense bushes, the men who had charge of the horses lay asleep. But Tomahawk did not get the scent of them. As he started to walk he stepped on his rope and felt his head jerked down. He got his foot off his rope and started toward a black horse that stood looking at him. Tomahawk walked close to the black horse and stopped. The black horse snorted loudly and leaped back. He stumbled clumsily as he did this because he and the other horses were all hobbled with short ropes around their front feet. This had been done so that the horses could not run or wander far away. Tomahawk did not know this. He approached a big dapple-gray horse but the horse leaped back, squealed, and jumped awkwardly to one side, its head up, and staring at Tomahawk it snorted loudly.


The other horses, about twenty in all, threw up their heads, looked at Tomahawk and snorted. The black and the dapple-gray lunged a few paces away and again began to graze. The other horses put their heads down, and all began eating the grass around the bushes. Tomahawk did not know that the horses were all hobbled by their front feet. He saw only that the black and dapple-gray seemed awkward on their feet. Feeling secure he walked a little to one side and began to graze near the brushy thickets.

While Tomahawk had not seen any men about the place, yet six men were asleep just below a low bank, a level spot near a small stream. All the men were awakened by the loud snorts of the horses. They at once looked over the bank and saw the big horse, with his white front legs, standing in the moonlight. He was magnificent. The men began to whisper low to each other. When they had first seen Tomahawk standing with his head high in the moonlight they saw the rope dangling from his head to the ground. They watched intently. When Tomahawk started off to graze one of the men saw a movement in the grass behind him that told him the rope was a long one.

The men sat crouched under the bank for a minute whispering to one another, then, agreeable to their plan, a small wiry man crawled up the bank behind the bushes and began, slowly, to worm his way toward the end of Tomahawk’s long rope dragging in the grass. The other men kept still and watched. The man reached a bush and lay under its cover for a time. Tomahawk went on grazing, now and then stepping forward as he bit off the grass. The man edged forward again, keeping among the bushes. The end of the rope was now only a few feet away. He crawled toward it but, at the moment, a bay horse walked up to Tomahawk and reached toward him with his teeth. Tomahawk whirled and kicked at the horse and drove him away. In doing this he jerked his rope farther away. The man liked his fighting spirit and wanted all the more to capture him.

Again the man crawled along the ground, keeping under the cover of the leafy brush. Once more he saw the end of Tomahawk’s rope as he took a step forward. The man was about to move out and try to seize the end of the rope when a nighthawk suddenly swooped low over Tomahawk and uttered its piercing, booming cry. Tomahawk was startled. He moved forward and stepped on his rope which jerked his head down. The man lay still. The horses were scattered about, a little beyond, some eating the grass near the clumps of bushes, some grazing on a valley, a little ahead of Tomahawk.

The night had become perfectly still in the bright moonlight. The grass was wet with dew and the clothes of the man crawling through the grass near the thickets were soaked but he was not conscious of this while watching the end of Tomahawk’s rope as it moved in the grass now and then. Keeping in the shadows of the thickets he crawled forward a little, and then he saw the end of the long rope almost within his grasp. Tomahawk’s head was down at the moment and out of sight beyond the bushes. The man got on all fours quickly and grasped the end of the rope. He pulled it gently to him. There was slack enough in it so that he was able to tie it around the base of a large bush. He tied it securely and got back through the bushes to the waiting men below the bank. The man whispered, “I got him tied. Let’s leave him until daylight. If we see him trying to break loose we can run out and hold him.” It was agreed.

Tomahawk grazed for a time when he found that his rope held him. He pulled on it once, and when he saw it held he pulled again and harder. The men all watched. They had taken their coiled ropes from their saddles near by and were ready. Suddenly they saw Tomahawk lunge back hard against his rope. They leaped up and all ran forward with their ropes. Tomahawk saw the men and tried to get free. In doing this he ran around a bush and got himself tangled worse. When the men ran up he could do nothing but lunge back and, before he knew what had happened, the men had thrown two loops from either side over his head. The men pulled the loops hard and quick, and Tomahawk had difficulty getting his breath. The other horses, all frightened, moved away a little and stood snorting and watching.

Tomahawk was no match for the cunning of these men. While two of them held the loops on his neck, others got their ropes on his legs, and in a short time Tomahawk found himself on the ground, all his legs tied. Then he felt the choking ropes loosened on his neck and he could breathe easily. One of the men rubbed him gently on his side and said, “Now, big horse, we don’t aim to hurt you. Keep quiet and we’ll take good care of you. But you mustn’t fight!”

Tomahawk lay still, breathing easily, but quivering with fear. He saw the men standing near looking at him. He felt the ropes on all his legs, and after another futile effort he lay still, breathing hard in fear.

The men talked together for a time. They had bought some of their horses, and bought them cheap, but, like other renegades of their kind in these days of the Old West, they had stolen some of the horses. In those days there were many bands of such men who dealt in horses in this way. If they could get a herd of horses together and drive them toward the east, where there were small towns, there were always men in the towns who would buy the horses with no questions asked. The men here, in fact, already knew where they had a market for these horses, once they got them to a town further to the east. The only point was to get the horses there. They generally started them late in the afternoon and drove the horses until well along in the night when they would stop, hobble the horses and allow them to graze while the men slept.

The men now tied Tomahawk’s front feet close together and so hobbled him. They tied two long ropes on his neck so they would not slip and allowed him to get on his feet. He leaped up and tried to plunge forward and run away but his front feet were tied so close together he fell to his knees. He got up and stood trembling. He was led some distance away on the open valley and two of the men remained with him, each holding a long rope. The other men returned to their camping place and went to sleep. Before dawn they all got up, saddled their horses, took the hobbles off the herd of horses and started them forward. They took the hobbles from Tomahawk’s feet and two men on horses held the ropes on his neck, riding on either side of him and well apart. Another rider came up in his rear. Tomahawk tried to run away but the riders on either side took a half hitch in the rope on their saddle horns and he was brought up with a quick jerk when he reached the end of the ropes tied on his neck. Three times he tried to run away but each time he was jerked back hard. He could not hang back because there was always the man in his rear to snap a rope at him when he tried this. All the horses had been started at a trot, Tomahawk being compelled to keep pace a little to the rear. They traveled until midday when all the horses were allowed to stop at a stream to drink.

The stream at this point widened into a large pool, bordered on one side by tall grass that reached up to the stirrups of the men on the horses. When Tomahawk saw the water he needed no urging from the man who rode behind him. He pushed on through the tall grass that swished against his legs and walked up to the water’s edge. A rabbit jumped out and Tomahawk stopped, startled a little, and a quiver went over him. He hesitated, looking with frightened eyes, then put his nose down to the water and began to drink. He heard horses on either side of him pushing through the tall grass and presently he saw, as he drank, some horses on both sides with their heads down to the water. Tomahawk drank deeply for a time, then raised his head, the water dripping from his lips. While the horses on either side of him were drinking Tomahawk heard the men talking in the rear as they sat on their horses. Some of the horses, in their eagerness to drink, had walked out a little in the water and stirred it up so that it was muddy. They did not like the muddy water and some of them pushed out a little farther where they stood with the water up to their sides.

Tomahawk again put his nose toward the water to drink when he felt a sharp pull on the ropes on his neck, and he heard the shouts of the men to the horses. All the horses understood this as a command and they began backing out of the water. A big bay horse with black mane and tail turned about and came plunging directly toward one of the long ropes tied to Tomahawk’s neck. All the men shouted at the bay horse to turn him aside. With wide eyes he turned and plunged through the tall grass and began galloping up the valley. All the other horses followed and Tomahawk was made to gallop close behind them.

It was late in the evening when the men with the horses reached a canyon with a wide mouth opening out on the valley. They said among themselves that they had been making such good time they would stop earlier than usual for the night. The men saw that Tomahawk and all the other horses were sweating and puffing from their long and continued exertion, so after some talk the men dismounted from their badly jaded mounts, while the horses stood with their heads down heaving for breath.

A carpet of luxuriant green grass with a small stream of water flowed out of the canyon and down the valley. On this night only three of the horses were hobbled. Tomahawk was not hobbled but he was tied to a small tree by two long ropes and now he could walk about in this limited freedom and graze on the grass.

When night fell all the men except one went to sleep on the ground not far from the mouth of the canyon. But one of the men sat on his horse to watch Tomahawk and the other horses.

Tomahawk, like the other horses, was very hungry. He stood for a time looking at the man on the horse, and Tomahawk saw this horse had his head down, grazing like all the others. Tomahawk lowered his head and began to eat. As he did this he stepped about on the two ropes tied to him. Some time passed. He paid no attention to the ropes until, all at once, he found both a front and a hind foot entangled. Frightened, he began to turn around quickly but in the effort he got his feet more entangled and he fell to the ground helpless. As the mounted man some distance away looked, he saw Tomahawk plunge about and fall to the ground. Tomahawk lay without trying to get up. The man rode up, dismounted and came up to Tomahawk. When he saw him badly entangled in the two ropes the man said to himself, “One rope will hold him. I’ll get him untangled and leave only one rope on him.” When the man walked up close, Tomahawk snorted but lay still. The man spoke low to him. One of the ropes pulled Tomahawk’s head down toward his knees. The other rope had become wound around one of Tomahawk’s hind legs, just above the hoof so that the leg was drawn up tightly. Tomahawk could not have gotten up if he had tried. The man felt of the taut ropes in disgust. Here was a hard task. It would be impossible to untie either rope on Tomahawk’s neck while they were pulled as tightly as they were. The man had an idea. He would get his own rope from his saddle, cut the two ropes on Tomahawk’s neck with a knife, and tie his own rope on Tomahawk’s neck to hold him.

The man walked over to his horse, got the coil of rope from the saddle and brought it up. He tied the rope around Tomahawk’s neck above the other two, then proceeded to cut the other two ropes where they encircled his neck. The man had decided to tie the other end of his rope to a tree. Then he would let Tomahawk lie there until he wanted to get up and so get out of the tangle himself. The man looked on Tomahawk as a very desirable horse, but to him Tomahawk was still a horse and the man knew that generally when horses became badly entangled in a rope and thrown to the ground the horse had a way of giving up after a short struggle. He thought it would be the same with Tomahawk. The man tied his own rope on Tomahawk’s neck.

Having cut the other ropes the man picked up the rope he had tied to Tomahawk’s neck and started toward the tree some distance away. When approaching the tree he heard a violent floundering behind him. He turned to see Tomahawk struggling, then he saw him stand up and kick off the offending ropes. The man ran for the tree. He was just in time to take a half hitch with the rope around the tree when he saw Tomahawk lunge back on the rope, shake his head, and lunge back again. The man shouted to his companions. They got up and came running, but just as they did this they heard the dull snap of the rope as it broke free from Tomahawk’s neck. He raced away like a streak down the valley. There were loud shouts and complaints among the men as they saw Tomahawk running away. The man who had been watching the horses, jumped into his saddle and would have raced after the runaway if his companions had not angrily insisted that Tomahawk was already much too far ahead to catch single-handed. As the other horses were unsaddled the men could not be of any real help, so after a good deal of disagreeable argument they went back to sleep again, leaving a new man to watch the rest of the horses.

Tomahawk thundered down the valley with all speed. His neck hurt where he had lunged back with all his might to break the rope, and he felt weak from his long trip with the horses. He had been tangled in the ropes when he had only begun to satisfy his appetite. He ran on until he was so tired he was compelled to slow down to a trot. Then he stopped and whirled around. As he did so long strings of froth fell from his lips. With anxious eyes he searched the land to his rear for signs of approaching men, but he saw nothing except the silent grassland stretching into the distance. He stood for a short time breathing deep, quick breaths, then he started out at a trot along the valley. As he moved on he kept his head up, his ears flicking back and forth, his eyes on all the land before him. He was thinking where he would find water and grass but he was also thinking of the men. If they came in sight he wanted to see them instantly.


It was a still, clear night with the moon shining down on the rolling prairie. Tomahawk walked across a low place and as he moved on he saw, a little ahead, a long, low ridge with a cut running through it to some level land beyond. He was walking toward the cut when he heard a strange sound on the other side of the ridge. It was a sound that made him curious. What he heard was the low singing of a cowboy beyond the ridge, but Tomahawk, as yet, could see nothing there and did not understand the sound. He stood still for a minute in the bright moonlight listening.

On this night something very unusual had happened on the other side of the ridge on the broad plain there. What Tomahawk heard was a cowboy singing low in the night as he rode near a big herd of longhorn cattle “bedded down” for the night, as the western men phrased it. There were twenty-five hundred cattle in this herd which were being driven on the trail toward the east. But what was unusual here was that another herd of longhorn cattle, also about twenty-five hundred in number, were bedded down for the night only a short distance away. The cowboys, driving these two different herds, had not intended that they should come so near each other, but this sometimes happened when cattle were driven in the West. When this occurred at night the riders had to make the best of it. At such times, at nightfall, all that the cowboys of the different herds could do was to bed down both herds, even if only a short distance from each other, with the hope that by the usual methods of keeping them quiet nothing would happen to scare these nervous beasts and cause them to leap up and go into a dreaded stampede.

As before mentioned, the cattle, five thousand in all, were bedded down for the night and it was one of these night riders that Tomahawk heard singing. At such times some of the cowboys rode near the longhorns and sang low to keep them quiet during the long hours of the night.

Tomahawk had been traveling for hours, and he was tired. Hearing the low crooning sounds made by the cowboy Tomahawk looked up to the top of the ridge. He was curious to see what it was on the other side of the cut. He started walking through the cut toward the other side. He saw patches of tall brush at the farther end of the cut which hid the place beyond from his sight. He walked on until he reached a patch of brush. This brush hid his view. He moved to one side, passing a tall thicket, and then came out suddenly into the open plain. Tomahawk instantly snorted in surprise at what he saw, many hundreds of longhorn cattle, all lying close together upon the ground right before him! But Tomahawk’s surprise in seeing so many cattle was as nothing compared to the surprise he gave to the cattle. When he suddenly appeared and snorted, the nervous, half-wild longhorn cattle leaped to their feet and with loud bawls started rushing away. Tomahawk was out on the open level land, and following his first impulse he leaped away, running in front of them.

Pandemonium suddenly broke loose on the whole plain. When the first herd of twenty-five hundred cattle leaped up and, with loud bawls, started on the stampede, the other herd not far away leaped to their feet and ran behind the others. The sounds of the bawling did not last long. Only when these cattle began a stampede did they bawl. The bawling soon ceased and the now crazed cattle ran with all their might in a blind frenzy of fear—a fear that started when a horse had suddenly snorted as he appeared out of the brush.

When Tomahawk had heard the sounds of the cowboy singing he did not know that there were also other cowboys riding near the cattle, trying to keep them quiet. Now, however, nothing availed to stop the avalanche of suddenly crazed cattle. The whole five thousand swept down the plain with their thundering hoofs shaking the earth.

Almost anything could start these nervous longhorns on a stampede when they were lying down at night. Even the sudden bark of a coyote near them had caused more than one stampede. A crack of thunder, or the mere lighting of a match by a rider near the cattle, had been known to make them leap to their feet and start running.

All the cowboys could do now was to ride hard on either side of the rushing cattle, hoping in time to turn the leaders and so get them into a vast milling mass on the plain. But the longhorns here were fresh from their rest and, filled with a sudden insane fear, they ran so fast that even the foremost riders could not gain upon them.

After Tomahawk had run for a time he tried desperately to turn aside and escape the thousands of rushing cattle spread out on the plain behind him. He tried this twice but he found that he only lost precious time and the cattle drove closer upon him. Wild with fear he ran straight away, ran on and on as hard as he could. He had been tired when he started and after some time he found that, try as he would, these long-legged steers were slowly gaining. Tomahawk plunged on and on with the vast avalanche of longhorn cattle sweeping over the ground behind him. He heard the roar of twenty thousand hoofs pounding the earth and he felt the ground shaking under him. Once again he dashed off to the left to escape the oncoming cattle but they came on in so vast a spread he saw he would be run over, and again he leaped away and ran in terror to keep ahead of them. On he ran.

He was covered with sweat and breathing hard when suddenly he saw ahead of him a stream with a few clumps of brush and a few scattered trees, here and there, standing near the bank on the nearest side. On the other side there were high, steep banks with an open valley beyond. On the cattle came, spread out nearly a mile behind him.

Tomahawk galloped toward the stream which he found to be at the flood. A cloudburst a short time before had sent the water up, overflowing the lower river bank. Tomahawk had no other course. He leaped into the rushing flood. He had no sooner done so than he felt himself seized by the water and swept out and down the stream. He swam with all his might toward the other bank. He could hear the great splashing sounds as the cattle plunged into the stream behind him. This frightened him and he made all the more effort. Once he was caught in a whirlpool and spun around. When he had passed a point in mid-stream he saw one of the steers with its long horns only a little behind him. And in that quick look he saw, in the bright moonlight, thousands of heads and long horns showing above the water. It was like a vast sea of horns. Terrified, Tomahawk gave every ounce of strength to reach the bank beyond.

This stream for the most part, in summer, was a shallow one, flowing along over a wide, sandy bed, with a gentle slope on the side where Tomahawk had plunged in, but with high, steep, sandy banks on the other side.

Tomahawk found his footing under a long line of high, precipitous banks and turned about. As some of the cattle came near him he squealed loudly, laid his ears back and reached for them with his teeth. Terrified by him the cattle turned down the stream. At this turn of events a thing happened that occurred more than once when a herd of longhorns stampeded and plunged into a flooded river. Some of the cattle, frightened at Tomahawk’s squealing and reaching for them with his teeth, swam back among the other cattle, and quickly they began to be a great, milling mass out in the flood. There sounded the clack of hundreds of horns as the cattle milled blindly about together. In this confusion many of them began to disappear under the water, some of them not to come up.

Tomahawk did not understand this. He had only a sense of his own danger. Again he saw some cattle sweeping down and coming close to him and at this moment he saw a large cottonwood tree riding down on the current. Tomahawk saw the giant tree plow through the cattle. On it came and the current swept it close to Tomahawk, standing on his precarious place. He crowded as close as he could against the steep bank. The ends of the outermost limbs of the tree brushed hard against him but he held his position. The end of a dead, jagged limb raked him on the hip and cut through the skin. Tomahawk flinched with pain as he saw the tree pass.

All of the cattle were now well out in the stream, carried down by the swollen waters. The “mill” of the cattle had broken up, leaving hundreds of them at the bottom of the river. Tomahawk stood, trembling, waiting. In time he saw the last of the cattle pass from sight around a bend of the river. Tomahawk did not know, but down the river, beyond the bend, there were a number of cuts leading through the high sandy banks where cattle trails led down to the water. The longhorns, following the leaders, were already plunging up these cattle trails to the valley above. The cowboys, seeing nothing could be done at a time like this, had galloped down the stream and were fording the river below. But Tomahawk only knew that his experience had been a terrifying one and he wanted to get away from the danger of the flood waters.

The river was still rising and Tomahawk began to feel the water pulling at him. He saw another tree floating down farther out on the flood. Behind the tree was a mass of brush looming darkly on the face of the water. The water was now up to Tomahawk’s sides and all at once a surge of the current struck him from behind, and he was swept out into the river. With only his head above the water he began swimming. Once the current swirled against him and pushed him farther from the high, steep banks, but he fought back and kept near the high, frowning, sandy walls, looking anxiously up at them. His ears were set stiffly forward and his dark eyes shone with deep anxiety. On he swam. He let himself sink beneath the water until it lapped the under part of his jaw. Instinctively he knew that when he sank low in the water he did not have to fight so hard to keep his head up. He could see the precipitous banks close to his left but they stood gray and forbidding as if they were a part of the flood itself, bent on his destruction. He was halfway down to the bend when a huge section of the high bank, cut under by the river, caved off with a big splash. The waves from this pushed Tomahawk out a little but he swam desperately and again got closer to the bank. He could do nothing but swim on while he looked constantly for a place where he could get out. At last he was swept around the bend in the stream when he saw a deep cut leading up in the bank. Breathing hard, he fought, with his neck above the water, and reached the bank. When his feet struck bottom he lunged forward and got out of the water. He plunged up and out of the cut to the level land above. For a minute he stood with his head down, puffing, while the water fell in streams from his coat upon the grass.

All at once he heard sounds down the valley. He raised his head and looked. Far down, in the moonlight, he saw a dim, shadowy mass and he heard the distant bawling of cattle. The cowboys swam their horses across the river and had the cattle in a vast milling mass far down the valley. They would hold the cattle there until daylight and again resume their journey. Tomahawk did not know all this, but he knew he had had enough of the cattle. He started walking wearily up the valley. After a long time he reached a dark wood growing at the margin of a small creek coming down from the hills on the north. He pushed in under the low-hanging branches of the trees as the limbs brushed against him. He turned about in the darkness of the trees and looked toward the open land. Once he turned his head and looked at the dark place behind him. The deep shadows troubled him. Enemies might be lurking here. Slowly he walked out some distance into the open land. In his spent condition, his sides were rising and falling as he breathed. He could hear no more sounds of the cattle and all the valley around him lay serene and still.

Tomahawk walked on a little farther, and sinking to his knees, he slowly lay down with his head up, looking around him. Everything was as still as the moonlight on the grass. Tomahawk turned his head and looked back at the dark wood. The trees stood in the shadows silent, not a leaf stirring. For a time Tomahawk felt a sharp sting on his hip where the dead limb had cut through the skin, but the pain eased and he felt very sleepy. He still held his head up, watching. He was now more afraid of men than anything. He did not want them to get their hands on him again. At last he became so tired and weary that his head began to sink. Lower and lower his head sank down. A few times he jerked his head up a little to watch. At last he could hold his head up no longer and he gave up and lay at full length with his head on the grass. He went as sound asleep then as a horse could go to sleep in those circumstances. It was a fitful, troubled sleep, and it was a sleep always near waking. And far back in Tomahawk’s mind were vague troubled dreams—dreams of strange, unpleasant commotion. At times his body quivered. Once his hind leg jerked, but he still lay with his eyes closed, breathing deeply. A low breeze blew across the woods gently, stirring all the leaves and whispering through the grass around Tomahawk. The breeze gently fanned his tired body for a time, then died away.

In the dark stillness of the near-by woods a wildcat, prowling in the night, got the scent of Tomahawk and crept forward under the dark shadows of the trees. The wildcat looked out for an instant at the dark form lying on the grass, then, with a scarcely audible growl, it disappeared in the shadows of the woods. As Tomahawk slept on a bug crawled along his uppermost ear. Though unconscious in sleep Tomahawk flicked his ear and threw the bug off.

A small cloud floated across the starry sky, and for a brief time it hid the face of the moon, and Tomahawk was covered with a dark shadow. The cloud floated on across the moon’s face and again bright moonlight flooded the valley. All was still around the place except the chirping of some crickets in the grass and the sounds of frogs croaking near a pool of water not far away. Tomahawk did not hear the crickets or the frogs, and even if he had such sounds would only have lulled him into peaceful slumber.


It was a bright, clear day, not long before sunset, when Tomahawk walked to the brow of a low hill on the west overlooking a cattle town some distance out on the valley. Just at the base of this hill on which Tomahawk stood was a small house and a stable. Tomahawk looked carefully at the house for some time but there was no sign of life about the place except that he saw a thin veil of blue smoke coming up from the chimney.

Inside this house, sitting at a crude table, was Blackie Shirk eating his evening meal. Blackie was a horse trader. He was a short, squat man, with a swarthy face and a full, black beard. After a time he pushed back from the table, wiped his hand across his mouth, belched comfortably, and looked about the kitchen with his beady, black eyes. An hour before he had led his two skinny old horses, his only possessions at the time, up a trail on the low hill near by and turned them out to graze, not far from the place where Tomahawk now stood looking down at the house.

Blackie got up from his chair and went out at the kitchen door. He looked casually up the hill. He did not see Tomahawk, who had decided he had seen enough, and had walked back on the highland and started toward a low place where he could see only the back of one of the horses where the animal had its head down grazing.

Tomahawk walked on, came up to the place and stopped. He saw the first horse, and also the other grazing near by. The two old horses barely raised their heads from the grass to look at Tomahawk, then went on grazing, with lusterless eyes that seemed to be half asleep. Young horses had long since shed their winter coats, but there were still masses of long brown hair clinging to the bodies of these two old horses. This added to their forlorn appearance.

But to Tomahawk they were horses, and, seeing they were quiet and gentle, he began to graze near them. They were of his own kind and he felt that they were companions. He grazed with them moving about here and there along the lower places.

It was well along in the night when Tomahawk and the two old horses reached a place where the grass was unusually good in a draw that dipped down in the ground near a wire fence. Tomahawk saw some dark-looking thing just a little to one side of him on the ground but he paid no attention to it. It was a mass of old, tangled barbed wire that had been washed down the draw in the spring rains.

Tomahawk was grazing quietly some distance in the rear of the two old horses when he saw another horse, a big dun, come out of the darkness. The dun was a young horse, and a belligerent one, that had wandered away from his pasture. When the dun horse saw Tomahawk he looked quickly, then started toward him. Tomahawk watched the horse. The dun, seeing Tomahawk was a strange horse, laid back his ears, opened his mouth, and ran at him. Thinking only to drive away the enemy, Tomahawk whirled about and, as he did so, both of his front feet plunged into the tangle of barbed wire. It all happened at once: he kicked at the horse and it leaped away and snorted. Instantly Tomahawk tried to free his front feet from the tangle of wire. He jerked one foot out but the other held. Desperately he lunged back, with the barbs of the wire gripping him. He pulled the whole tangle of wire several feet in his effort but he could not get his foot free. The dun horse snorted and trotted away.

Tomahawk lunged back again and again, but one of those peculiar accidents had befallen him that had come to more than one horse. When he had plunged into the tangle of wire, it had happened that one hoof had struck into the mass in such a way that when he pulled the foot the wire above his hoof was only drawn more tightly. His hoof was like a big knot with the tangled wire gripping above the knot and holding.

Tomahawk struggled for some time to get his foot out, then he stood trembling. He could drag the mass of tangled wire a little over the ground but he could not get his foot out. The two skinny horses, seeing him struggle, walked near and looked in dumb wonder at his struggles. But they were too hungry to stop long. They walked a little away from him and went on contentedly grazing.

When Blackie Shirk came up the trail the next morning to get his two old horses he was astonished at what he saw. Tomahawk stood, with his foot caught in the wire, and looked at the man. When Tomahawk saw Blackie coming toward him he struggled desperately to get free. With a grin of surprise and satisfaction Blackie stopped and looked. Tomahawk was covered with sweat. It was plain that he was caught securely and had been struggling for some time to free himself.

Blackie turned back toward the house and quickly disappeared down the hill. After some time he came in sight again with a coil of rope over his arm. He came nearer and, taking the loop of the rope in his hand, he approached Tomahawk. Tomahawk lunged back but Blackie tossed the loop over his head. He pulled it until the rope was securely around Tomahawk’s neck. Then, holding the coil of the rope on his arm, he slowly walked up to Tomahawk. Tomahawk stood looking with frightened eyes. Nearer still Blackie came. Tomahawk knew he was in a bad way then. He wanted help and he did not know what more to do than to stand still. It seemed to him the man might get him free from this thing.

Blackie saw how the foot was caught. He took his time and fixed the rope on Tomahawk’s neck so that it could not slip. Then he again looked at Tomahawk’s foot in the tangle of wire and decided there was no chance for him to get the foot out until Blackie, himself, did the work. But Blackie did not want to take chances on losing his prize. He saw the brand on Tomahawk’s shoulder. It was a Bar C. After thinking for a little Blackie knew he had never seen this brand before. But the brand did not matter to the cunning Blackie. He could change it. He could change it if he could once get this big, strong horse in the stable. And he thought about how best to get Tomahawk there. He did not want to risk taking Tomahawk’s foot out of the wire here. A horse as big as Tomahawk could jerk away. Suddenly Blackie’s beady, black eyes shone with cunning. He took hold of the edge of the wire tangle with one hand and pulled. He could pull the mass with little difficulty. The thought came to him that he would leave Tomahawk’s foot entangled in wire, drag it to the low hillslope with Tomahawk following, then down the slope to the stable. Once at the brow of the slope it would be easy since it would be downhill.

He pulled the mass of wire until the barbs cut on Tomahawk’s foot. Tomahawk stumbled awkwardly forward. Blackie kept to one side of him and so, dragging the tangle of wire, Tomahawk’s progress was slow, but he moved awkwardly on, using his three legs.

Arrived at the low hillslope Blackie pulled the mass of wire and started down. Tomahawk “crow-hopped” forward. In due time they reached the stable door. Blackie took one end of the long rope on Tomahawk’s neck, went in the stable and tied the rope to a post at the manger. He came back and began to pull the mass of wire into the stable. Tomahawk, in his helplessness and wanting only to get the mass from his foot, hopped into the stable. Blackie shut the door. He then began to get Tomahawk’s foot free. In doing this Blackie got his own hands cut a number of times on the sharp barbs of the wire, but he got Tomahawk’s foot out of the tangle.

When Tomahawk saw that his foot was free, he also found himself tied with a rope close to the manger. There were no stalls in the stable so that Blackie had all the room he needed to do the work of “blotting,” or changing, the brand.

Blackie stood for some time looking at Tomahawk with satisfaction. Presently he talked to Tomahawk although he was talking more to himself. He said, “You will make a good horse to trade. I’ll trade you for several horses and get some money besides. I’m going to change the brand on you but I won’t be in a hurry about that. I’ll keep you tied up here with nothing but water for a while and so tame you down some.”

Blackie brought out two buckets full of water and set them where Tomahawk could reach them. He then went out of the stable and fastened the door.

All that day Tomahawk stood close to the manger, tied with the rope. He began to be hungry, but there was nothing for him to eat. He smelled in the manger and in the feed-box. He found nothing but the bare boards. He smelled the water carefully, then he drank all of it.

Late that evening Blackie came in and took the two empty buckets out, filled them with water and again set them where Tomahawk could reach them.

When night fell Tomahawk had drunk all the water. He was hungry but he wanted more than anything to get free. He began to step about in the limited space his rope would permit. It was so dark in the stable that he could see nothing whatever.

At last morning came, and at sunrise Tomahawk heard the door open behind him and Blackie walked in. He regarded his prize with a cunning smile and said, “Well, I guess you’re ready. Now I’m going to change the brand on you.”

Blackie went out, closed the stable door and began to rake some trash together. He struck a match and lighted the trash. He then threw some bits of wood on it and afterward he pushed a piece of wire into the trash, a piece of wire which he had bent double for the purpose. This done, he went back in the stable and closed the door. He must hog-tie Tomahawk and throw him on his side, with the brand which was on him uppermost. This would not be very difficult for Blackie since he was skillful in handling western horses. He now put on his leather gloves. With two coiled ropes at hand he made a slip noose in one and placed it down at Tomahawk’s front feet. He made Tomahawk step about and shortly Blackie had the slip-noose around both his front feet. He pulled the rope tight and bound the two front feet together. He then dropped a slip-noose on the ground beside Tomahawk’s hind feet and prodded him with his fist, causing him to step about. When Tomahawk stepped into the noose Blackie jerked the rope, and, although Tomahawk tried to struggle, Blackie pulled the rope tight, and at the rear of the stable he took a turn of the rope around a post, came back holding the end of the rope and caused Tomahawk to lurch sidewise. As he did so the rope on his hind feet was jerked quickly and Tomahawk fell on his right side.

Tomahawk had been branded on his left shoulder when he was a colt. Jim Arnold had had this done to establish Dan’s ownership, since, if there was no brand at all on a horse in these days, some men might get the horse, put a real brand on him and so claim ownership, which might make it difficult or impossible for the first owner ever to establish his claim. But Tomahawk had been branded when so young that he had long ago forgotten.

Tomahawk tried to get up but he could scarcely move. His hind legs were tied and pulled back and his front legs were tied together and also pulled up and tied to a post at the manger. His head was free but not for long. Blackie tossed a slip-noose over Tomahawk’s head, pulled it and tied the rope. It was so tight Tomahawk had difficulty in breathing. Blackie now moved swiftly. He swung open the stable door, hurried out to the fire and, with gloved hands, took hold of the cool end of the wire and pulled it from the fire.

Blackie went to work changing the brand, singeing off the hair down to the skin with the hot wire. Blackie worked fast; Tomahawk tried desperately to fight but he could do nothing. Blackie went out once to heat the wire again, and presently he finished the branding. He had changed the original Jim Arnold brand, which was a bar and a C, to a cross and an O. Blackie well knew the shallow fake brand, such as he had made, would soon fade out and show the original brand, but he did not care. He was certain it would stay long enough to suit his purpose. He expected to trade Tomahawk off in a short time, probably within a few days.

Blackie knew that Tomahawk was in a great tension now but he supposed he would act like any spirited horse when released, that is, he would be nearly scared to death at the very sight of Blackie but nothing more. This was to be expected and Blackie thought nothing more would happen, but when he looked at Tomahawk’s eyes, with the rope still on his neck, Blackie decided that the horse had unusual spirit and so it would be well to be careful around the hind feet in getting him free.

He tied a rope around Tomahawk’s neck so it would not slip, and fastened it to a post at the manger. He then took his knife and cut the rope on Tomahawk’s front feet. Then, being careful to keep away from the hind feet, Blackie also cut the rope on the hind legs. Tomahawk leaped to his feet. He was now held by the neck with a rope, tied to the manger, pulling one side and the rope with the slip-noose on the other side. Blackie reached out with the sharp knife and cut the slip-noose from Tomahawk’s neck. He was now tied by a single rope to the manger as he had been at the first.

Blackie went out of the stable and fastened the door behind him. Tomahawk turned and looked toward the door. His eyes were blazing. And he was now covered with sweat. The pain in his shoulder and everything that had happened to him here had suddenly transformed him into the spirit of his wild, fighting mother. She fought anything that attacked her, whether a wolf, one of the longhorn cattle, or a man, if he restrained her. No living thing could attack White Face without finding she fought back. This spirit had always been in Tomahawk, but it had been latent except when the black outlaw cow attacked him. That spirit had come to the fore that day when the outlaw attacked Tomahawk. Dan had seen enough of Tomahawk to know he was not afraid as were horses in general. It was true that Dan knew Tomahawk would leap like mad from the buzz of a rattlesnake, but this was because Tomahawk knew instinctively he had no chance but to jump away.

As it turned out now every drop of fighting blood in Tomahawk was aroused. He stood only a few seconds, then he lunged back with all his might until he broke the rope at the manger. With the short piece of rope dangling from his neck he whirled and faced the stable door. He had not long to wait, for Blackie had heard the commotion in the stable. He came back, threw open the door and walked inside. To his astonishment he saw Tomahawk facing him, the rope broken and hanging from his neck. If Blackie had had time to think he would have turned and shut the stable door, supposing he could throw a rope over Tomahawk’s head and so tie him again. But Blackie had no time to think, and there is no doubt that he was fortunate in not being able to shut the stable door. Blackie had no more than swung the stable door open and stepped inside when he saw, to his horror, the great chestnut sorrel horse rush for him, with ears back, his mouth open and his teeth shining! Blackie yelled like a wild Indian but he had no chance to escape. Tomahawk leaped for him, seized him by the shoulder, crunched down with his powerful jaws, knocked Blackie to the ground, leaped over him, with one of his big hoofs stepping on Blackie’s arm, as he ran away.

Blackie slowly got up and held to the stable door for support. He was puffing in his fear. He said aloud, in the western jargon, “Look at that! He’s a killer horse and I never knowed it. Think of that! He would as soon eat up a man as he would grass. Think of that! He’s a killer and I was plumb mistook! Me in the stable with him and him plumb loose with only that piece of rope hanging on his neck!”


Tomahawk, in the meantime, did not hear the judgment passed on him by Blackie Shirk. He knew only that he was free from the torture of the short, squat man, with the black beard. He was hungry from his long fast but, in his state of mind and being free, he ran with complete abandon as fast as he could leap over the ground.

Tomahawk had never before fought a man. He had not known, himself, that he would fight one. He did not understand himself. He only followed the spirit that was in him. Even though he had done what was natural for him, he was like some unusual men who do not know what they will do until they are thrown into some desperate circumstance. Tomahawk was an unusual horse, the kind the cattlemen knew was seen only now and then in many thousands of horses. But Tomahawk, being a horse, did everything according to his nature. He was afraid of the man he had escaped from. If necessary he would fight the man again, although he did not want to fight that man, nor any man. He would fight any brute if it attacked him, too, but only because he was attacked. He would rather be left alone. To Tomahawk, men were different from animals. Men held a strange, uncanny power over him. When they became his enemies he dreaded their power.

Tomahawk ran on until he reached a vast, rolling prairie. And still, uphill and down he ran on. At last when he was in a lather of sweat, and puffing hard, he arrived at the edge of a broad, sandy river, bordered on either side by many green, drooping willow trees. He pushed on through the soft, yielding branches and arrived at the river, splashed through the shallow water and crossed many sandbars until he stood on a bar out in the middle of the wide river. He looked back toward a long green slope leading down to the stream. Although he stood looking for some time, he saw no sign that the man was following.

He stood puffing and looking toward the slope, but he saw only the peaceful green as it lay in silence in the morning sunlight. He drew a long breath, walked across the bar to the clear water murmuring along the edge of it, and he began to drink. Because of his fear he did not drink long. He raised his head, looked back at the green slope, puffed for a time, then drank again. He needed much water but in his agitated state of mind he wanted to keep moving. Constant fear possessed him.

He splashed on across the shallow river and walked up the shelving, sandy bank, on the other side, to the grassland above. Before him lay green grass everywhere on the open land. He saw, some distance away out on the valley, a tree casting a deep shade on the ground. With quick steps he walked to the tree and stood under its shade while he looked back across the river toward the green slope beyond. He wondered if the man might be following him.

After he had looked for a long time in that direction and had seen nothing, he turned his head and looked all around him. The whole valley lay green and peaceful in the morning stillness. Although his shoulder stung with pain he began to feel somewhat easier in his mind, and, being very hungry, he walked out on the grass and began to eat rapidly. Presently he saw a pool of water ahead, with some tall grass growing around it. He walked up to the pool, drank for some time and stood with his head up, resting beside the pool. He again felt his hunger and began to graze near the pool. He did not think about the direction in which he was moving since this meant nothing to him at all. All that he knew was that he had been in a strange land since that night when he had been compelled to run before the storm, and everything had been strange to him since that time.

As it happened, while Tomahawk was grazing, he moved across the grassland toward a line of high steep hills that bordered the valley on the north. All at once he raised his head and looked down the valley. He saw men on horses; there were six of them riding up in his direction. Tomahawk snorted and stood still for a minute looking. He turned and was about to gallop away in the other direction when, to his great surprise, he saw a number of men on horses riding around a spur of the hill, coming toward him. Instantly all the horsemen, who had so suddenly appeared, saw Tomahawk. He leaped away as if to run but stopped, undecided which way was the best. The hill near by, on the north, was very steep and high. He did not know what was above it. He thought that if he labored up the hill he might meet more men there at the top. He looked quickly, once, toward the river but that was the direction from which he had fled from the man with the hot wire. If he ran in that direction he might again get caught by that man. All this, according to his nature, flashed through his mind. He whirled and started running toward the riders who had ridden around the spur of the hill. In his desperate fear he thought he would run past them.

By a turn of fate it happened that Jim Arnold was one of the men toward whom Tomahawk was running. Jim had ridden far from his ranch on a mission of buying cattle. Jim, like Dan, had given up the idea of ever seeing Tomahawk again. But now Jim Arnold recognized him! He shouted to the riders, “It’s Tomahawk! Our best horse on the ranch! He got away last March. Now help me get him!”

One of the riders, coming up from the other direction, was the cattle boss who was out to show Jim Arnold the cattle. This man did not know that the great chestnut sorrel horse, with the blaze face, belonged to the Jim Arnold ranch, but when he saw Jim and the other men uncoil their ropes and start toward Tomahawk, the cattle boss understood that Jim had reason to try to catch the horse. That was enough. The cattle boss and the men with him took their ropes from their saddles and galloped forward.

Now Tomahawk saw men coming toward him from both directions. He stopped once, in desperate fear, and started running toward the cattle boss and his men. On they came, spread out a little. Suddenly Tomahawk saw their whirling loops of rope. He leaped aside, the loop fell short, but he saw another loop coming through the air at him as three other riders were just below to intercept him. He reared on his hind feet, whirled and ran back, trying to dodge around the horsemen. Two loops shot out toward him. One fell on his back and he was terror-stricken. Another shot straight for his head. The rope struck one of Tomahawk’s ears and fell to the ground. Tomahawk ducked and leaped just as a rider got in front of him. The man started to swing his rope when Tomahawk, in a wild frenzy, plunged against the horse, knocked him back on his haunches, and so dodged another rope. Suddenly an open space loomed before him and he leaped clear. At the same instant, while Jim Arnold and his men were coming at him, Tomahawk heard his name shouted. It was Jim Arnold who shouted, “Tomahawk! Tomahawk!” But Tomahawk was clear of Jim and all the men now and he raced away with all speed up the valley. The riders spurred hard after him but the horses carrying the men were no match for Tomahawk’s speed. He raced like the wind up the valley and disappeared in the distance, while Jim Arnold told the men of the long-lost Tomahawk. Jim ended by saying, “Well, he’s headed in the direction of my ranch. That may mean nothing but it may mean that Dan will see him some day. If that happens, and Dan is alone, I’m certain Tomahawk will come up to him. When I yelled out his name to him he was too excited and scared to pay any attention. No telling what has happened to him but, by the way he acted, being scared stiff at seeing us, my guess is he has had rough treatment.”

The men sat on their horses and talked at some length. Now that Tomahawk was known to them they said if they saw him again they would try to get word to Jim Arnold’s distant ranch. Jim told them that if they would do this Dan would set out at once for the place. Jim said, “You would have to see the relation of Dan and that Tomahawk horse to know how they want to be with each other. I’m certain Tomahawk has, all this time, been wanting to get to Dan, but, being in a strange country and likely chased by strange men, he has got so he thinks only about how he can keep loose and be free.”


When Tomahawk got free he ran, as was seen by Jim, in the general direction of Jim Arnold’s ranch. Tomahawk himself did not know in what direction he was running. As he ran on he knew that he had heard his own name called but he was too frightened to do anything else except run away. He ran on for a long time. When he reached a belt of woods bordering a small creek, he scarcely slackened his speed but dashed through the woods where the leafy boughs almost reached the ground. He reached a small creek, leaped across the water and plunged on through the woods on the other side to the open. Here he struck a wild region of rolling prairie with, here and there, a high knoll standing above the surrounding country. He galloped to one of these high knolls and started up. When he had got to the top he stopped and looked back. He saw nothing but the rolling swells of the land all around him, with the blue skyline in the distance.

Tomahawk stood for some time looking off in the distance toward the place where he had heard his name called—where he had heard his name shouted twice, “Tomahawk! Tomahawk!” He knew his name as well as a man knows his name. Always, when Dan or Jim or any of the men called that name, Tomahawk knew he was the one spoken to. It seemed strange to him, in a strange country, where strange men were trying their best to rush upon him and capture him. He had been so scared he had thought only of escape. Now that he was far away from the men, and free, the memory of hearing his name caused him to feel lonely. If, at this moment, Jim Arnold had appeared alone and called to Tomahawk, he probably would have stood still and, in time, Jim might have come up to him. But Tomahawk did not know who had called out his name. He knew only that he had heard it.

The calling of his name had a strange effect on him. Since that night when he had been driven far away by the storm he had wanted to come up to Dan. But, as the days and weeks had gone by, Tomahawk began to think only of taking care of himself in the new and strange places that surrounded him. But the memory of Dan had never left him. And when he had heard his own name shouted at him, under such trying circumstances, this had had a deep effect upon him. He would not go back to those strange men who had rushed at him with their ropes swinging, but now that he was free he thought of nothing but Dan. He was like a man who is lonesome among many strangers and who suddenly hears his own name shouted—a man away from home who is lonely and would be glad to meet an old friend.

There was green grass on the knoll and it was green all around him. Tomahawk could eat all he wanted. Likewise, he could find water. These would take care of his physical needs, but they could not satisfy his mind. Nothing but his friend, Dan Arnold, could do that.

Tomahawk walked down from the high knoll and started off in the direction he had been traveling ever since he left the men. He walked on for a long time across the rolling land. The sun was well down in the west when he came to a green valley with, here and there, in the distance ahead, many clumps of bushes. He saw, in the distance, some cattle feeding. He could see nothing but the cattle and the clumps of brush on this side of them. Tomahawk moved on until he came near the brush, when a dun-colored longhorn cow suddenly rushed out from the brush and stood glaring at him. The other longhorn cattle threw up their heads and stared at him. The dun cow had a calf at the edge of the brush but Tomahawk did not understand this. Suddenly, with a snort, she rushed at him, with long, deadly horns lowered. Tomahawk leaped away. The cow plunged after him, but seeing him leap away, she stopped and snorted and glared at him.

It seemed it was not enough that Tomahawk was already lonely and miserable. He also found he must fight against the brute world around him. The dun cow stood and still glared at him. The cow was outraged at seeing a horse dare to stop and watch her. Again she suddenly lowered her horns and charged toward Tomahawk. He leaped out of the way but when the longhorn stopped he, also, stopped. They stood glaring at each other. Tomahawk stamped his front foot on the ground for he felt outraged also. The cow turned and trotted back toward the brush.

Tomahawk turned and started on his way. He was like a gentleman who wants to go on about his business and who expects others to go on about their business, too. Some distance up the valley he walked past a mass of green thickets growing on the grassland and he had no sooner gone around the thickets than he saw a number of longhorn cows grazing, and with them there was a big brindle bull. All the cows threw up their heads and looked at Tomahawk with defiant eyes. Tomahawk looked at the cattle and was about to go on.

The brindle bull was a brute with an unusual temper. Thinking, perhaps, to show the cows how he could protect them, the bull uttered a low, rumbling bellow and with lowered horns, suddenly charged Tomahawk. Tomahawk leaped aside, evaded the rush and lashed back with both heels. Both hoofs struck the bull hard on the ribs. Tomahawk leaped away. When the bull had checked himself, he turned and looked at Tomahawk. The bull stood with his head high, glaring with a stupid but dangerous look. The bull was stupid but he knew something unusual had happened to him. He had charged at other horses but they had all run away quickly without taking time to slam their hind feet against his ribs. He could not understand a horse like this. The bull had decidedly felt the impact of Tomahawk’s hoofs against his ribs. He could have charged Tomahawk again since Tomahawk was still standing off watching him, but the bull was a coward and did not care to fight unless he was sure of winning a battle.

Still wanting to make a show of his prowess, the bull lowered his head almost to the ground and, with a deep rumbling bellow, began to paw up the dirt with a front hoof and throw the dirt in the air so that it fell on his back. This seemed to satisfy his vanity. Tomahawk watched this display only long enough to feel that the bull was not coming at him again, then he turned, with a snort of disgust, and started on up the valley.

The day was now far spent and again the night was coming on—the night and the darkness when Tomahawk always felt more lonely than ever. After a time he came to a giant cottonwood tree standing out alone on the valley, but a short distance from the broad, shallow river. He walked under the tree and stood in the vast shade, looking for a time about the place. The whole valley around him was still and peaceful. He went down to the river and drank, and came back to the grassland near the big tree. He grazed here until the night fell with the stars shining above him from a clear sky. The deep shade of the cottonwood looked inviting and Tomahawk walked into the friendly shadows and lay down to rest. He drew a long breath that quivered a little at the end. His body was now wholly satisfied, but his mind was not. He wanted to be with Dan.

He lay for a time with his head up, his eyes alert and watching. A little breeze stirred through the leaves of the cottonwood and the characteristic murmuring sounds that come only from one of these trees had a lulling effect upon him. His head was up but he closed his eyes.

Tomahawk’s mind had been deeply stirred when he had heard his own name called. And while he was resting his body his mind was working. He had no particular thoughts. It was not given to Tomahawk to think as a man might think. It was given to him only to have his mind on Dan as he lay here with his eyes closed. Tomahawk wanted to be with Dan. Dan would be all-sufficient. Tomahawk did not know how to be troubled about the future. With him it was the present that he lived in.

He was living only in the present now as he lay in the deep shade of the cottonwood on the lonely valley. He wanted only Dan and he wanted him now. Tomahawk could not think more than that.

Another little breeze blew through the tree and the leaves all began whispering. Tomahawk lay with his front legs bent at the knees, his long tail spread on the ground behind him. His eyes were closed. Yet he was not asleep. His mind kept working—it worked vaguely and without purpose. He knew only what he wanted. He would have no peace unless this want was fulfilled, yet there was nothing he could do.

Away off in the hills to the north there sounded faintly the yip-yap of a coyote but Tomahawk scarcely heard. Far down the river there came a sound when a portion of the sandy bank caved off in the water. But if Tomahawk heard he paid no attention. He lay still in the shadows under the tree, with his eyes closed and his thoughts on Dan.


It was three days later. Tomahawk lay on the grass asleep. He had eaten all he wanted and, except for his loneliness of mind, he had felt comfortable when he had lain down some time before. With the warm rays of the sun falling upon him he had gone sound asleep with his head down on the grass.

Where Tomahawk lay there was rolling land and he was stretched out on a low place where there was a ridge of ground all around him, except at one point where the ridge dropped away to level ground.

A short time before, Jake Blood, on his horse, had by chance been riding along a fringe of trees not far from where Tomahawk lay, and he had seen him. Jake had stopped his horse for a minute and looked at Tomahawk. At once he came to a decision. He turned his horse away and rode in a wide detour until he reached the horse ranch, which he owned, that lay around the spur of a high hill down the valley. Jake rode up to the ranch where there were many men and many horses. A number of the horses were in a big corral that was built at the base of a high and very steep hill. Jake quickly told the other riders what he had seen, a fine big horse asleep not far up the valley, and that he and all the riders would at once ride to the place with their ropes and see if they could surprise the horse by getting near him before he awakened. He said that the big horse lay in a place that was excellent for the surprise.

At once a dozen horsemen started with Jake toward the place. When they came near the designated point the men separated and approached so that they came up in a circle from all sides around the sleeping Tomahawk. They all kept quiet. The only sounds made were those of their horses’ hoofs walking over the prairie sod.

The day was still and Tomahawk had no warning until he was awakened by the sounds of the horses’ hoofs approaching. These sounds at last awakened him. He raised his head. He was astonished when he saw a ring of riders approaching. He leaped to his feet, uttered a wild snort, whirled around once and looked at them, with his eyes wild and frightened. The riders kept coming steadily forward. They had their coils of ropes in their hands, with the loops at the end of the ropes, ready.

Tomahawk snorted and leaped around once in a circle, trying to decide which was the best open space to dash past the men. He saw one that seemed a little wider than the others and leaped away with thundering hoofs at the space between two riders. All the other men spurred their horses toward him as Tomahawk dashed for the opening between the two riders. He had started with his head up, but when he saw two loops hissing through the air toward him he ducked his head. One loop missed but the other fell over his head and caught on his neck.

Tomahawk raced on. The man, holding the rope on his saddle horn, pulled his horse back on his haunches. Tomahawk hit the end of the rope and he was thrown hard to the ground, so hard he was shocked by the hard fall. He jumped to his feet, but he had no more than done so when another loop was thrown over his head and he was caught by two loops, and the men pulled the ropes so tight Tomahawk could scarcely breathe.

Quickly Jake Blood dismounted and came up to Tomahawk with another rope. While Tomahawk stood trembling Jake tied a rope on Tomahawk’s neck so it would not slip. He reached for another rope that a rider handed to him and tied this also, so it would not slip. Jake then quickly took from Tomahawk’s neck the other ropes that were choking him. He could now get his breath. He stood for a minute breathing hard, trembling, and watching the men. Two riders sat on their horses some distance away holding the long ropes fixed on Tomahawk’s neck. The two riders kept a half hitch with the ropes around their saddle horns.

After Tomahawk had stood and breathed for a time Jake Blood gave the word and they started with Tomahawk toward the ranch around the spur of the high hill. The two men held the long ropes on either side of Tomahawk, and the other riders rode behind to keep him going forward.

When they came up to the ranch Tomahawk saw many horses about the place. He saw some in a big corral that was built against the high, steep hillside, and he saw some horses out on the open grazing on the grass at the foot of the hill a short distance away. All the horses in the corral and those along the base of the hill raised their heads and looked as Tomahawk and the men came near the big horse corral.

Jake Blood said, “Now, he’s a mighty fine big horse and we’ll see if we can ride him. We’ll mount him in the big corral.”

All the men dismounted. They opened the gate of the big corral and drove all the horses out and down toward the place where the other horses were grazing at the foot of the steep hill. Tomahawk was then taken into this big corral and the gate was shut. The two men stood on either side of Tomahawk holding the long ropes attached to his neck.

The place where the corral was built was unusual and it was what horsemen called a “natural” for holding horses with the least time and work spent in its construction. The corral was enclosed on three sides by big stout posts and big strong poles fixed to the posts. This corral reached up to a point on the very steep hill, so steep that it was certain no horse could ascend it. At least no horse had ever escaped in this way although even a number of wild horses had been caught and left in this corral for days.

The steep hill rose high and frowning, with rocks and a few stunted bushes on its side. It was so steep that even a man would have to labor hard to ascend the height. In fact, no man had ever tried to do this. The horsemen knew what was on the other side of the summit although they had seen it only from a high peak two miles away on the other side. If a man or a horse reached the summit, and in particular if he were a horse, he would be in a bad way to escape, for after walking a few rods across the summit, he would see before him a vast steep slope of loose shale rock, so steep and so deeply covered with the loose shale that not even a bush grew upon it. At the foot of the long shale slope there was a deep arroyo with several feet of water flowing down between its precipitous banks, from five feet to ten feet high all along its course. At the end of its course the stream in the arroyo tumbled down into a wild, steep gorge but the place, described here, was so impassable to men or horses that, as already stated, it had been seen only at a distance by the men on their horses.

Of all this Tomahawk, of course, was wholly unaware. All that he knew was that he was caught here in this big corral with many men around him, and now they were putting a saddle on him. He submitted to this and stood scared and trembling as they did so.

When the saddle was cinched up Tomahawk stood with no bridle but only a rope on his neck, long enough so that the men who mounted him could hold the rope. This was the way these hard-riding men broke a horse to ride. A new horse was allowed to do his best, and if he proved to be a bucking horse, it was a battle between him and his rider to see which would succeed.

These men, like other men of the West those days, had but one way to ride an uncertain horse. They mounted the horse, with their spurs on, and their quirts, or short whips in hand. If the horse started fighting by bucking they applied the whip and the spurs to him for they believed this was the way to conquer a bucking horse.

Tomahawk was already extremely nervous and excited at his sudden capture, and his experience with the two choking ropes on his neck put him in a very unusual mood. He felt a deep antagonism to these men and something in his nature was ready to show itself. It was something that was born in him, the same fighting spirit that he felt when the vicious black longhorn cow attacked him. Tomahawk was ready to fight and he was ready to fight hard.

One of the best riders quickly mounted Tomahawk. No sooner had the man got on his back than Tomahawk felt such a resentment that he began to buck hard to throw the man off. Instantly the rider gouged Tomahawk hard with the spurs and began to lash him with the whip. Tomahawk leaped high and bucked the harder, and in a short time he threw the man from the saddle to the ground. Then Tomahawk, in his wild rage at being so much punished, rushed, with his ears laid back and his teeth gleaming, for the fallen man.

The rider, fortunately, had fallen near the side of the corral. He quickly rolled under the lower poles and escaped while Tomahawk stood with his head down, close to the side of the corral, glaring at the man with deadly hate.

When the rest of the men saw Tomahawk rush for the man and saw the man escape, they quickly got over the corral and outside. Jake Blood came outside and lay down near the man who was not hurt but who had not yet got up. Jake told him to stay down and they would try to get the end of the rope on Tomahawk’s neck and snub it to a post.

Tomahawk stood with his head down. He glared first at one man, then the other. The rope on his neck trailed a little toward Jake. While Tomahawk watched the other man Jake seized the end of the trailing rope and snubbed it around a post. He quickly tied it to the post. Tomahawk leaped back and tried to break the stout rope but it held. Jake and some of the men then went in at the gate of the corral. Tomahawk tried to whirl and face them but the rope held him fast. He lunged back three times, but it was no use. Jake approached him slowly and took the saddle from Tomahawk’s back. Jake and the men then went outside, shut the corral gate and Jake untied the rope from the post.

Tomahawk was now free, with only the short rope dangling from his neck. He snorted and trotted once around the corral.

Jake said, “He’s a big, fine horse but he’s a bad outlaw. Maybe, if he cools off a few days, he’ll be better. I’d like to try him again. He’s certainly big, and he’s an awful purty horse. I don’t like to give him up.”

But Jake and his men were in for an astonishing surprise, something they had never seen in horse flesh.

Tomahawk ran around the corral once more with his head high, his eyes blazing in anger. He looked defiantly at the men standing outside the corral and stamped a big hoof on the ground. Then he leaped away for the hill slope. He ascended the lower part of the slope in a few bounds and started plunging up the steep hill.

Jake Blood grinned. He said, “Now I admire him. He’s going to try it like one or two of the wild ones did, but he’ll see, as they did, it’s no use.”

On and up Tomahawk plunged. He reached a point well up that a wild horse had once gained. Here the men saw Tomahawk sink down and rest, with his chest on the hill. The wild horse had done that, too, and shortly thereafter he had given up. But not Tomahawk! He turned a little, at an angle, and still crouching down, he struggled up, stopping, now and then, with his chest on the ground.

On and on and still up he struggled. Suddenly Jake yelled, “Why, I can’t believe it! Why, he may make it! Let’s try to get to him.”

The men grabbed their ropes and started for the hill. They began toiling upward, but made little more progress than Tomahawk had done. And their progress was more and more slow because they could not keep their eyes from the amazing horse above them. If he had stood to his full height he would have fallen, but Tomahawk kept low, crouching and struggling up and up, still fighting, at times sinking down, and fighting up again.

When halfway up all the men stopped, except two who toiled on. At last, to the amazement of all, they saw Tomahawk on the summit.

When Tomahawk reached the top he turned and saw two of his tormentors coming on. He stood for a time heaving for breath. Then he turned for a place of escape. He saw now the hard place he was in. Only the steep shale slope lay before him. Puzzled and troubled he looked once more at the steep he had ascended. The two men were still coming up.

The two men looked up and saw Tomahawk. Then he vanished. They wondered if he would try to go down the steep shale slope. Laboring and puffing, they at last reached the summit and looked down the steep slope beyond. The disturbed shale on the slope told them what Tomahawk had done. They saw he had started down and it looked as if he had not rolled and tumbled for the trail was straight. He must have slid down on his haunches. The men stood, for a time, looking for signs of Tomahawk. Then one exclaimed, “There he is!” They both looked where the man pointed. They saw for an instant, and an instant only, the head of Tomahawk. He was far down in the deep arroyo, with only his head showing above its precipitous banks. Then Tomahawk disappeared. The men never saw him again.

Tomahawk saw the two men on the summit and he went on splashing through the stream at the bottom of the arroyo. The water was about three feet deep, but he was making fairly good progress down the place. The men had guessed correctly when they thought how Tomahawk had gone down the steep shale slope. He had looked back when he had reached the summit of the hill and had seen the two men toiling up the slope after him. There was no way of escape except down the steep shale slope before him. Tomahawk had started down, trying to brace himself with his forelegs held stiffly before him. At once he lost control of himself and slid rapidly down the slope on his haunches. When he had seen the yawning arroyo with its precipitous banks confronting him he had been badly frightened. And he had tried to check himself, but his weight swept him on and he had shot into the arroyo and struck the water, with loose shale flying down in the stream with him.

Tomahawk was not hurt, except for a small cut on his knee where he had struck a stone. But in his desperation, this was nothing. He walked on down the arroyo and looked constantly for a way out of the place, but found none. At last he reached a point where his head was above the banks and he saw, some distance ahead, many tall, green trees. He wanted to reach the trees, although he did not know what he would find there. He splashed on through the water and, at last, reached the edge of a vast, wild gorge, filled with great trees growing along its floor.

Tomahawk had come to the end of the arroyo where the water tumbled down into the depths of the gorge. He stood, for a time, looking down in the place. Although it was too steep to descend with comfort, yet this did not now much trouble him. There were many bushes growing on the slope and here and there stood a sapling with bushes around it. Tomahawk stepped down a little, well to one side of the tumbling water and, with his forefeet to brace him, he moved gradually down. Sometimes he lost control of himself and slid on the earth until some bushes checked him. Each time this happened he paused a little. Then he moved on and so reached the depths of the gorge below with its great shady trees. He stood for a time and looked all around him, for he was afraid men might be near. But he found himself alone in a cool, quiet place with nothing but the trees and the sounds of the tumbling water coming down the slope.

Tomahawk walked up to the edge of the stream and drank long and gratefully. After looking about for a time he proceeded down the gorge for some distance. At last he stopped at a place where all was still; even the sounds of the tumbling water no longer came to his ears, only the quiet sounds of the flowing stream.

No lovelier spot could have been seen than that where Tomahawk stood. The trees stood tall and silent, casting a deep shade over the place where, here and there, a few shafts of sunlight broke through to shine on the stream that flowed with gentle murmuring sounds along its gravelly margins.

A little farther down there was a small, open glade where a patch of green grass lay under the warm sunlight. Tomahawk walked down to the green grass and grazed for a short time, but not for long. He walked on farther down and again stopped in the deep shade of the trees.

Nature here was altogether kindly to him. Here was the stream with its life-giving water, the green grass in another open glade, the comforting shade of the tall, silent trees, the fresh sweet smell of the air in the forest.

But now, as Tomahawk stood looking in the stillness around him, he felt the stinging in his sides where the sharp spurs had gouged him. The stream flowed steadily along. The tall trees stood silent as if waiting and looking at the scene.

After Tomahawk had stood and looked around him for a time he drew a long breath that ended in a quiver. He started walking down through the shade of the trees near the stream, not knowing whither he went.


Several days later Tomahawk stood grazing on the pale green grass in the valley of the Willow River. The sun was pushing up above a long, blue cloud on the horizon, causing it to gleam at the upper edge like shining silver. When the sun rose above the cloud it shone full on Tomahawk, the dapples showing on his glossy coat. The wind, blowing gently from the west, fanned his long sorrel tail like a silken banner in the breeze. His front legs shone whiter than ever above the green grass as he stood with his head down grazing.

While he grazed his dark eyes were alert as always and Tomahawk saw everything before him. From the time he was three years old his eyes were one of the striking things about him. A horseman of the Old West could see, in these eyes, something that told what Tomahawk was, a horse with a high order of intelligence. And a horse like this, if properly cared for, might have an unusual devotion to his rider. And, while Tomahawk himself did not know it, nature had endowed him not only with intelligence, but also with a high degree of courage in the world of horses. But since Tomahawk did not know of his unusual character he had no false pride in such things. He did not even know how beautiful he was; he only knew that as he grazed here on this summer morning he felt strong and confident.

As we have already seen, Tomahawk had unusual courage—he was not afraid of a wild, fighting stallion, nor afraid of the longhorn cattle. When he was five years old he had stood his ground when the dangerous black longhorn cow had charged him. There were other dangers on the wild range, dangers that Tomahawk had learned it was wiser not to fight against, but must be avoided as quickly as possible. One of these was the deadly rattlesnake. Twice now a rattler had struck at him and barely missed one of his white stocking legs, but each time he had leaped away and escaped the deadly fangs. So it was that Tomahawk, like some other horses on the range, would leap instantly with all the quickness in him when he heard that strange rattling sound of one of these snakes near by. He had even learned to avoid eating grass that grew near tall, dead bunches of grass where a big rattler might lie concealed and ready.

It was nearly noon when a gust of wind struck so sharply that Tomahawk looked up from his grazing. Clouds were swiftly spreading over the sky. The first sharp blast of wind was followed by another and the wind became suddenly chill. In the northwest there was a big dark cloud and, as Tomahawk looked in that direction, he saw the distant glimmer of lightning as it flashed in the cloud. Having grown up on the range his instinct told him of the coming storm. He was still hungry but the cloud in the northwest troubled him. His instinct again told him that it was well now to seek out some place for a shelter. The belt of low willow trees along the stream did not seem enough. It was better that he should find some deep ravine or gorge where there were tall, thick-set trees that would shelter him from a hard driving wind and rain. Tomahawk looked at the northwest a minute, his head high, his eyes telling of his anxiety. He snorted and started trotting up the valley.

There were no other horses on this side of the stream, but Tomahawk saw some wild ones already running far up the valley on the other side. He sensed that they, too, were running for shelter. Tomahawk increased his speed to a fast gallop. He had no particular place in mind but, as he ran, he looked to the right where there was a long line of steep hills. As he galloped up the valley he saw the wild horses on the other side disappear.

When a storm comes up in the West it often comes swiftly. That was true in this instance. What had been a quiet valley of sunshine in the morning was now a place covered with clouds. And the whole northwest was one vast cloud of darkness with streaks of fire flashing through it almost constantly. Tomahawk heard the rumble of thunder as the storm came on. Far ahead he saw the mouth of a ravine, with tall, dense trees standing at the edge of the level grassland. Tomahawk ran swiftly toward this shelter. The whole sky was now overcast and in the northwest streaks of “chain lightning” were shooting from sky to earth. A crash of thunder shook the earth.

Tomahawk ran faster toward the tall trees. The air had suddenly become strangely still. He ran with his head up, his ears cocked forward, his eyes ablaze with anxiety. The great muscles of his shoulders knotted in his long, powerful leaps over the ground and his big hoofs struck the ground with a continuous drumbeat on the sod. He could hear the roar of the rain coming swiftly on. When he was near the tall trees, the storm struck with a fury of wind and rain. Tomahawk was so blinded for a moment that he could see nothing, but he leaped on through the downpour and reached the cover of the trees. He ran under the trees, a little up the gorge, and stopped for breath. The trees under which he stood were tossing violently. Dead limbs snapped. One struck him on the hip and he leaped forward. Lightning struck a tree not far behind and he shivered.

On one side of him, the slope of the gorge was long and gentle so that the full force of the wind struck the trees. Tomahawk pushed his way farther along in the place, and still on, keeping to the bottom of the gorge where a little stream flowed down. The day had become so dark that he could see but dimly the place around him. The rain was pouring upon him as he pushed on farther up the gorge. In a short time he reached a point where an old wild horse trap-corral, close to the head of the gorge, had been made by the men of the Jim Arnold ranch a long time before, and abandoned. Tomahawk knew nothing of the trap. In a blinding glare of lightning he saw ahead of him a high rocky wall with some jutting ledges of rock on the north side of the place. When he saw this it happened he was standing under a giant dead tree, not far from the gate of the wild horse trap. Tomahawk moved quickly through the open gateway into the trap and walked close to the wall of rock with the jutting ledges above. Here he stood still. He was protected a little from the wind but the rain still pelted down upon a part of his body. When the lightning flashed, making the place like day, the water could have been seen running down his sorrel coat in streams. His long tail hung down in wet clusters of hair from which ran a steady stream of water. When the bright glares of lightning flashed, Tomahawk saw the branches of the trees in the gorge tossing violently in the storm and, now and then, he heard a crack above the roar of the storm when a big limb was torn from a tree. Once the wind suddenly whipped a blinding swirl of rain so hard against his face he batted his eyes to drive the sting of water from them. After blinking his eyes, he stood looking at the place in the flashes of lightning.

Tomahawk stood on a rise of ground under the rocky ledge while the wind and rain roared around him. Flash after flash of lightning glared, and between the flashes there fell a jet-black darkness. In a short time Tomahawk could feel the surge of water over his feet as he stood on the rise of ground near the rocky wall.

All at once there came a blinding flash and in the glare he saw the giant, dead elm, a little beyond the gate of the trap, crash to the ground. He was startled by the crashing of the big tree but he thought no more of it when the black darkness came again with the steady roar of the wind and rain. Tomahawk did not know what had happened except that he saw the tree go down. He did not know that it had fallen in such a way in the gateway of the trap that there was now no possible way he, himself, could escape from this shelter—one that seemed at this time so friendly to him.

The storm roared on for a long time, then began to go down almost as quickly as it had come up. In a short time there was only a spatter of rain coming down. After more time had passed the rain ceased altogether and the clouds began to scud away from the sky. These summer storms in the West are often like this. They bear down swiftly with a deluge of rain and driving wind. They strike with a fury that neither man nor animal can stand against, but often they cease almost as suddenly as they begin.

Daylight came with the sun shining. Tomahawk walked out in the bright sunlight, his wet coat glistening. The water was now coming down only in a little stream over the high rocky wall composing the rear of the wild horse trap.

Tomahawk took one look at the natural rocky wall around most of the place. He stepped briskly forward toward what had been the only gate or opening where he had entered. But to his anxiety he found the giant, dead tree with its many-pointed, broken limbs barring his way. He stood for a moment looking at the place, then walked once around the rocky walls encircling what had suddenly become for him a trap. He again went back to the gate which was now blocked by the fallen tree. He uttered a low anxious sound and, for a brief time, he stood looking at this thing that had come here so suddenly. He began to try to push past some of the dead branches. He selected a place where there seemed to be a small opening and tried to press forward. As he pushed he broke a dead limb and as he crowded in he felt a sharp jab of the pointed limb in his side. He backed out and looked at the tree. It was not like a fallen green tree with the tips of its branches yielding at the touch. There was hardly a branch without the end of the naked limb broken, and pointed sharply toward Tomahawk. Nevertheless, he moved about, trying to push in at different places. But each time he crowded in, the sharp ends of some dead limbs gouged his shoulders painfully. He backed away from the tree and stood looking at the ground outside the trap.

There it was, the ground, just beyond the huge dead tree with its broken stump. It was such a short distance out there, where freedom lay, if he could but get through this one obstructing barrier that blocked him.

Tomahawk turned about and walked along the big high posts the men had set on this side, tall posts with their many tight strands of barbed wire fastened to them. This fence on either side of the gate was short since it led only to the rocky walls on the sides. Tomahawk did not know that the men had selected this place because it was, for the most part, a natural trap in itself.

He walked about on the sand and pebbles covering the ground in the trap and then went up to the short fence at one side of the gate to investigate. He put his nose close to the wire on the fence as if trying to smell some weak spot. He turned about and stood with his head high, looking at the rocky wall toward the north. At one point there the wall was not so high and standing on the far side from that point Tomahawk could see some of the green slope that lay above.

The waterfall tumbling down over the rocky wall made a ceaseless bubbling sound. The sun shone brightly over the place. The tall green trees below the trap stood in the stillness with drops of water falling occasionally from their leaves. Tomahawk suddenly uttered a sharp whinny when he looked beyond the lowest point of the rocky wall toward the green slope beyond. He saw a horse appear on the slope, then another and another, and three horses started down the slope. Tomahawk looked with shining eyes and he let out a loud nicker to them. All the horses stopped and, with ears cocked forward, looked. Again came the shrill nicker from Tomahawk. And the three horses saw him standing on the far side of the trap, but they did not know what had happened. One of them, a tall black, started forward, his ears cocked stiffly, looking in curiosity. The other horses followed. Slowly they all came down the slope and walked up near the edge of the rocky wall of the trap and looked at Tomahawk. He uttered a low, friendly nicker and stood looking up at them. The tall black horse gave a snort of surprise and curiosity. All three horses stood looking at Tomahawk. One of them, a gray horse, put his nose down toward the edge of the steep rocky wall. He snorted and stepped back. They all gazed intently for a time at Tomahawk. The black horse then started away. The others turned to follow. At this Tomahawk gave a shrill nicker. They all stopped, turned their heads around and looked back at him, their ears flicking back and forth as if they were uncertain what to do. They could not understand why Tomahawk remained standing down there in the gorge. They walked on for some distance and began to graze on the green grass farther away and Tomahawk could not see them.

With a sound like a groan Tomahawk again walked to the dead tree and this time he was so desperate to get out that he crowded in among the branches and even when the ends of the sharp limbs gouged him he reared on his hind legs and tried to plunge through, but it was no use. He got back from the tree and stood still. Several places on his shoulders and sides were bleeding. He walked to the little stream, flowing on its sandy bed through the place, and drank nervously. He raised his head, looked in the direction the horses had gone and sent forth one loud nicker after another.

All that afternoon Tomahawk walked anxiously around in the trap looking down the gorge and at times on the slope above where he had seen the horses, but he did not see them.

The day passed and the night fell silent and still with the stars shining above him. There was water here for him but no grass whatever and he was very hungry.


When night fell Tomahawk walked restlessly around in the enclosure that held him. By midnight his hoof prints could have been seen everywhere on the damp sand composing the floor of the natural trap.

The little stream of water tumbled steadily from the rocky wall above, making splashing sounds in the little pool below. Tomahawk walked over to the pool and drank of the clear water. He paced about the place for some time and drank again but not much. He drank more often because of his anxiety. He wanted to do something.

The twinkling stars shone in the sky above him and all the place around seemed to be sound asleep. He heard only sounds of the waterfall and his own soft hoof beats on the wet sand as he paced about over the place. At times he stood still and looked down at the dark, silent trees in the gorge below. All night he kept awake waiting and watching.

At last the dawn began to light up the sky and he heard the twitter of a few birds. A minute later he heard the sounds of other birds, and as the gray dawn became lighter there were the sounds of a whole chorus of birds everywhere in the trees in the gorge. Tomahawk stood still for a time, then he again began to walk about in the corral, more anxious than ever.

Slowly the light became stronger and after a time he could see everything plainly all around him. A fresh, damp coolness lay over all the place. Tomahawk drew a long breath and looked up at the slope beyond him. He saw the green grass and freedom there if he could only get out. And it was so near! The sun began to rise from a rosy cloud in the east. Suddenly Tomahawk uttered a loud shrill nicker as he looked hopefully at the green slope. Again and again he sent forth his shrill nicker. He paused and kept looking. Suddenly a bay horse appeared on top of the hill and stood looking down at the corral. It was one of a number of old range horses on the Jim Arnold ranch that had been given his freedom after many years of hard work. The old horse saw Tomahawk and started down in his direction. At this moment another old horse, one of an iron-gray color, appeared on the hilltop. Seeing his companion walking down the slope he followed and, in a brief time, both horses stood on the grass above looking down in curiosity at Tomahawk. Tomahawk whinnied to them, and they whinnied to him in a friendly manner. Tomahawk had often been with these two horses while they grazed on the range. They now expected him to come out of the place and up to them on the grass land. They understood nothing of his predicament.

They stood for some time looking at him, but when they saw he made no move to come out of the place and up to them they began to graze on the grass. Tomahawk began to walk about the place more nervously than ever. He walked rapidly around and around in the trap, and the more he walked the more anxious he became. He stopped and looked at the two horses feeding contentedly on the grass above. When he saw them grazing so leisurely he became almost beside himself in his desire to rush out of the gorge and up to them.

The hours dragged slowly by. The two horses did not go away but remained not far from the place all day. Twice, during the day, they walked some distance along the grass until they came to a trail that led down to the little stream in the ravine where they drank. Each time they turned and walked back up the trail and again came near the place where Tomahawk stood, and they began to feed on the grass. When night again fell the two horses stopped grazing and stood very close together, and here they dozed until morning. With the coming of the day they began to graze again but, now and then, they raised their heads and looked down at Tomahawk.

Noon came. The afternoon passed and again the night fell. Still, when morning came, the bay and iron-gray horses were feeding on the grass. It was about noon when they grazed up the slope and reached the top of the hill. Suddenly they saw a rider in the distance and he was coming in their direction. As he came nearer they recognized him. They did not know his name but they knew him well and they were not afraid of him. The rider, seeing them, rode near and dismounted. He approached the bay horse and began to scratch the horse’s neck. Suddenly the rider heard the shrill nicker of a horse below him in the gorge. He turned quickly and looked. As he gazed down the slope his eyes grew wide in astonishment. He could see only the head of the horse below, and the face of the horse was all white! Dan Arnold quickly mounted his horse and rode down the slope. He pulled up his horse at the edge of the horse trap and shouted, “Tomahawk!”

Dan and the men had ridden far and wide searching for Tomahawk and Dan had almost given up hope—but here he was! With a shout of delight Dan rode quickly down on the trail leading into the gorge, and came up to the trap. Instantly he saw the dead tree that was blocking Tomahawk in. Dan dismounted and came up to the fence. He called and Tomahawk put his head over and Dan put his hands on him, and Tomahawk, in his own way, talked to Dan while Dan talked to him. He knew Dan as well surely as Dan knew him. This was the most wonderful thing that had ever happened to Dan. The boy was trembling with excitement, still unable to believe that he had really found Tomahawk at last. And Tomahawk, tired and hungry as he was, was at last filled with a deep sense of security and comfort, something he had not experienced in all the months since he had last seen Dan.

Somehow Dan must get him out of this place. After one look at the tree Dan gave that place up. He picked up a big stone and began to beat the wires from the posts on one side of the corral. He worked for a considerable time and got the wires loose from some of the posts. He pressed the wires down on the ground and stood on them. He then took hold of Tomahawk’s foretop and said, “Careful now, Tomahawk, careful, walk slow!” Tomahawk seemed to understand he must be careful in stepping over the strands of barbed wire. Dan held Tomahawk’s foretop until he had taken one step over the wire with a front leg, then he released him and said, “Careful, Tomahawk, go on!” Tomahawk took another step forward, then another, and he walked out of the trap. He at once turned to Dan with low whinnying sounds. Dan patted him on the neck and said, “Tomahawk, I’d like to put the saddle on you and ride you to the ranch but you look so awful thin and weak I won’t make you carry me. I know you’ll follow. I’ll let you eat grass on the way.”

Dan mounted his horse, a much smaller one than Tomahawk, and rode down to the trail that led up to the grass above, Tomahawk, the while, crowding close behind. When he reached the grass Tomahawk ate ravenously for a considerable time. Dan had dismounted. He held the bridle reins of his small horse with one hand while he kept the other on Tomahawk’s withers and talked to him constantly.

After a considerable time had passed Dan said, “We’ll go now, Tomahawk. I’ll stop again on the way to let you graze.” Dan mounted his horse and rode away. Instantly Tomahawk leaped close alongside. They passed over the hill and had gone quite some distance when they came to a point where the grass was unusually good. Dan stopped to allow Tomahawk to graze again.

Dan knew he was a long distance from the ranch. If he took his time, letting Tomahawk graze now and then on the way, it would be well in the night, and perhaps morning, before he reached home. But to Dan this did not matter. He would not think of compelling Tomahawk to go all the way without stopping to let him graze. Dan knew, by Tomahawk’s condition, that he had been a long time without grass. He thought it best now to tie a rope to Tomahawk. He took his rope from the saddle, came up to Tomahawk and said, “Tomahawk, it’s a long way to the ranch and we must go. I’ll stop, now and then, and let you eat more grass on the way because I can see you’re awful thin and hungry. We may not get home until nearly daylight. I don’t like that because Jim will be troubled about me not coming in. He’ll think something has happened to me but there’s no other way if I treat you right. I know Jim would do as I am if he found you out here half-starved.” Dan went on talking to himself, “I wish I didn’t have to trouble Jim this way. When night comes and I don’t come, he’ll be plumb worried, but I’ll have to do right the same as Jim would to Tomahawk. He’s in awful thin shape.”

Dan tied the rope on Tomahawk’s neck and, holding the end of the rope, he rode away. Tomahawk did not feel the need of a rope on him. He traveled with his head constantly up close to Dan in the saddle.

Dan rode on for some time with the horses at a jog trot. After they had gone several miles he stopped again and let Tomahawk graze for some time. Moving on in this way through the night it was just daybreak when Dan saw the ranch house ahead. Tomahawk saw, also. Dan saw him look forward, then, of his own accord, Tomahawk quickened his pace. Dan urged his horse to a gallop and, with Tomahawk now a little ahead, they moved quickly on toward the ranch. As Dan rode nearer he saw Jim and the other men outside putting the saddles on their horses. Suddenly they saw Dan on his horse leading Tomahawk.

When Jim Arnold saw Dan alive and well he stood very still. There was a glow in his steady, dark eyes that meant more than words could tell. All night Jim had been troubled and all night he had lain awake. When Dan rode up and dismounted he understood. Dan looked with his serious, dark eyes at those of his brother and said, “Jim! I found Tomahawk at last! I am awful sorry to stay out and trouble you, but I had to do it for Tomahawk.”

Dan told all that had happened, how he had found Tomahawk and why he had come slowly with him. A new light shone in Jim Arnold’s face. He went up to Tomahawk, patted his neck vigorously and said, “Now, Tomahawk, ain’t you the finest horse we’ve ever had.”

Although Jim and the men had much work to do, they spent an hour looking at Tomahawk, rubbing him, petting him and talking to him. After a time Jim and all the other men mounted their horses and rode away and Dan led Tomahawk into the stable and gave him a good feed of oats. It had been decided Dan would remain home with Tomahawk on this day.

Dan told Jim that night that he thought it best to ride another horse for a number of days until Tomahawk got in good condition, and then he could ride him each day in the work on the range. Jim heartily agreed to this.


During the next few days Jim, in particular, noticed the unusual relation between Tomahawk and Dan. Each evening, when Tomahawk saw the men riding in he stood and watched until he recognized Dan. The minute he did so he nickered loudly and began to step quickly about, where he was tied out on the grass, as if he could scarcely wait until Dan came up. Dan would at once ride up, dismount from his horse and begin to scratch Tomahawk’s neck. Tomahawk would put his nose on Dan’s shoulder and make low sounds to him while his eyes shone with great eagerness. It was as if Tomahawk might have been saying to him, “I don’t see why you have been gone so long. I have watched all day for you. I don’t see why I can’t go with you when you go away.”

On this morning, as usual, Dan led Tomahawk some distance from the ranch and tied him with a long rope to a tree. He expected Tomahawk to graze here until evening. He talked to Tomahawk for a little time, telling him he would soon ride him each day and then they both would be well satisfied. Tomahawk could have been tied in the stable or left in one of the corrals but Dan knew he would feel better out on the grass. What Dan did not know, at this time, was that Tomahawk was becoming more and more restless because he could not be with Dan when he went out on the range.

Tomahawk looked intently at Dan as he walked back to the yard. Once he let out a loud nicker. Dan looked back and said to himself, “He wants to go with me, but I’ll wait a day or two more. He can’t understand.”

Tomahawk stood and watched Dan go to the ranch yard. He saw Dan mount a horse and ride away with the other men. Tomahawk sent out another long, shrill nicker after Dan. He could not understand why Dan would go away and leave him. But Dan thought he would soon go on grazing and so take things easy for the day.

The result was that about mid-forenoon, Old Ben, working in the kitchen, heard the hoofbeats of a running horse and, looking out of the door, he saw Tomahawk, with a piece of rope dangling on his neck, running in the direction Dan and the men had taken. Old Ben understood. He watched Tomahawk disappear and said, “Now, look at that! Tomahawk’s crazy to be with Dan and he’s broke loose.”

But Tomahawk in one way was not like a dog. He could not trail Dan as a dog could have done, and even the dog, to trail him, would have had to be familiar with the scent of the horse on which Dan was riding. All that Tomahawk could do was to gallop off toward the wild places and try to see Dan himself. So he ran on, not knowing where he was going.

The truth was that Tomahawk was soon headed in the wrong direction, since Dan and the men, after galloping on a few miles, had turned off and headed in another direction toward the southwest.

In one section on Jim Arnold’s cattle range was the ravine known as Brandon’s gorge. At a point in the hills, some distance above the gorge, there was a little narrow valley that sloped down from the highlands between two high ridges. Bordering one side of this narrow valley a cattle trail wound through some low brush on one side near a low but steep bank and on down to a point where there was a cut in the steep bank. The cattle often went down here for water from a spring that gurgled out below the bank.

When Tomahawk had wandered on for some time he came down the valley and, seeing the cattle trail, he started walking along the trail which led through some very low brush. A short distance on the other side of the little valley, the place was covered with a mass of tall, brushy green thickets. On the side near the cattle trail where Tomahawk was walking there was a long precipitous bank, four or five feet high with low stunted bushes growing everywhere on the level ground above. The brush, though dense where Tomahawk was, was so low it reached no higher than his knees.

He had no luck in finding Dan, and hearing the spring bubbling below and feeling thirsty, he kept walking along the cattle trail. As he walked near the steep bank he kept looking for a place where he could go down to the level below and so to the spring. He moved along until he reached the point where the steep bank turned in a sharp bend toward him. A few thin bushes grew on the edge of the bank here where they leaned down from their precarious hold at the edge. Tomahawk knew he must move carefully. He walked on, his hoofs making sounds in the loose, shale rock on the trail. He had to step close to the edge of the bank, but he got past and walked on. He reached the cut in the bank and started down. The cut was steep and covered with loose shale. Half walking and half sliding, Tomahawk brought up on the level below, turned and started up toward the spring. He had almost reached the water when he saw something at the edge of the tall brush a short distance to his left, that caused him to stop and look. What he saw was a calf, jet-black in color. It was lying with its head up, but it lay perfectly still. Tomahawk did not know the full meaning of what he saw. He knew instinctively that the small black thing was nothing to be afraid of. Yet he was curious because he saw it and it lay so still. He stood for a minute looking, his dark eyes wide, his ears cocked stiffly forward. The tall brushy thickets were very dense all around the place where the calf lay, so that there was little else to be seen. A few gray birds flitted about in the thicket but that was all.

Tomahawk walked up to the spring which gushed out into a pocket in the steep bank. If nothing had happened he would have had a drink from the spring and gone on his way.

In the meantime the vicious black outlaw cow was moving through a lane in the tall thickets beyond, coming back to her calf. She came out suddenly into the open near the calf and saw Tomahawk. In a flash the longhorn cow charged. She rushed so fast that Tomahawk was caught in the edge of the pocket. He whirled around and let drive with both hind hoofs. By good luck one hoof struck the longhorn on the side of the head. The cow was checked and she stumbled aside. Tomahawk leaped up the path to the open grassland, and, as he did so, the cow lunged for him. One horn cut a gash in the skin of his hind leg but he whirled and, with his ears laid back, reached for the black outlaw with his teeth. She turned and leaped after him but she was no match for his speed. Some distance off on the open land she stopped. And Tomahawk stopped, too. He stood and, with his head high, his eyes blazing, he stamped a front foot on the ground to tell of his outraged feelings.

Again the black outlaw charged and again Tomahawk leaped away. When the cow stopped he did likewise and, again, he stamped and he snorted in his anger. The longhorn uttered a low, rumbling bellow of deadly hate. She wanted to finish him as she had already tried to do with several other horses. Seeing she could not catch him she suddenly turned and walked with quick steps toward the bushes. Tomahawk looked toward one of the high ridges and sent forth a loud nicker. It seemed to him Dan should be here.

He had been hunting for Dan all along and now he remembered again. But it was the same now as in the hours before. He saw no sign of Dan. He looked at the black brute, half concealed now in the edge of the thicket. He snorted in anger. He seemed to be thinking, “Well, you gouged me with one of your horns, but you found out I can fight, too. You are a cowardly beast. I remember you because I have had to run from you before this. Some time when you tackle me, I am not going to run. I’ll give you enough of this business!” He turned about and galloped off to the broad highland, then moved at a steady gallop. He had not been able to find Dan. It seemed to Tomahawk that Dan might be at the ranch. It was evening when Tomahawk got home.

Dan and Jim Arnold and some of the men had already come in. When Tomahawk came up they instantly saw the cut in his leg. Jim was almost certain that he knew what made the cut. He exclaimed, “Doggone that longhorn outlaw. That’s her work for certain. Tomahawk wouldn’t get cut like that any other way. He has been cut by a horn.”

Old Ben had already told Dan how Tomahawk had broken away and run off in the direction Dan had gone.

While the men stood around Tomahawk, Dan said, “It was my fault. He wanted to go with me. I’ll never tie him here again when I leave. I’m going to ride him in the morning. I wish Tomahawk could talk. If he could he would tell us where that outlaw is hiding. She’s the most disgusting creature we’ve ever seen in these parts. Not a man or a horse is safe near the brush.”

Then Jim frowned and said, “If that cow had really caught Tomahawk, she likely would have plumb ruined him. Every one of us has got to watch for that black outlaw. She’s likely got a calf somewhere and she’ll strike out at us from the brush like a rattlesnake. When riding near the brush I want every man to remember that not one of us or our horses are safe until we get rid of that brute. Don’t get off your horses anywhere unless you can see a good distance around you.”

The men gathered about Tomahawk and began rubbing his coat. He stood with his head up, looking off toward the west as if he were looking for something. As Jim Arnold stood watching Tomahawk he said, “Tomahawk’s a smart horse. My guess is he remembers that black outlaw. It’s impossible to know, but he’s thinking about something out there. He’s not wondering about Dan for he knows Dan is here. And now, remember, when you fellers ride out tomorrow, keep your eyes peeled. If we don’t get rid of that fool cow before long she may get rid of some of us.”

When the men mounted their horses next morning, each one had either a rifle on his saddle or a .45 Colt revolver in his belt; some had both. They all had their work to do on the range but now an important part of that work was to get rid of the dangerous longhorn cow before something happened to one of the men or their horses. It was the cunning of the black brute that troubled the men as much as the dangerous horns. The outlaw would strike, giving neither man nor horse the least chance if they got too close to some brush where she might be in hiding. And now, as Jim had warned them, the outlaw would be doubly dangerous if it happened she had a calf.

But that night when the men had all come back to the ranch house, the report was the same from each man. None had seen the black outlaw.


It was one day a month later. Dan had been delayed on this morning. When he mounted Tomahawk he rode out on the range some time after all the men had gone. During the month past the black longhorn cow had not once been seen by any of the men. Jim Arnold had said, the night before, “I reckon that old brute has got her calf hid in some of the wild places. The first time we see that brute may be when she runs out of the bush at one of us. If that happens you fellers must be quick on the trigger.”

Dan knew Jim and some of the men had ridden toward the west and Dan rode in this direction supposing that some time during the day he might meet some of them. He was not certain of this for Jim Arnold’s cattle range covered a vast region.

Dan and Tomahawk had gone a long distance toward the west when Dan turned Tomahawk and rode up to the top of a ridge. As yet he had seen none of the men, but just now he saw two riders far up a valley, riding side by side, coming in his direction. Dan rode on down in the valley and turned Tomahawk so that he would meet the two men. A little way ahead he saw a small shallow creek bordered on either side by tall trees. Dan was riding not far from the woods when he looked in surprise at a dead cow, a heifer about three years old. Tomahawk stopped and, with his ears cocked forward, looked at the dead cow. Dan’s eyes opened wide at the scene. After looking briefly he said aloud, “Tomahawk, this is that black outlaw’s work. She met this heifer here and finished her.”

The evidence was plain. Dan knew, as did every man on the range, how to tell when a cow had been brought down by a gray wolf. Always, in such a case, there were torn places in the carcass on the cow’s hind legs since most wolves attacked cows from the rear. And nearly always a part of the carcass would be eaten. This was not so here. The heifer had been gored to death by the horns of another of her own kind. The marks plainly told this. There were deep horn marks in a dozen places and the carcass had been left as it was. This was not the work of a wolf.

It made Dan angry to see how the heifer had been killed. Tomahawk, too, snorted and stamped a front foot on the ground. Dan thought the outlaw might still be near, and looked toward the brush. He was disgusted because he had had no chance to use the rifle. The green, leafy brush was so tall and dense that, as he sat on his horse, Dan could see nothing but the brush itself, and, here and there, farther in the place, the top of a scrub tree standing above.

He held his rifle ready and looked intently to see if there was any movement in the bushes at any point. He saw only a bluejay flitting about on top of the tall brush. The bluejay flew into the top of a small tree well out in the tall dense thickets and began to utter its harsh, scolding cry. Dan knew the bluejay was making the cry while shrilling at some enemy. He thought to himself that the bluejay might have a nest in the tree and the bird might be looking down at the black cow standing below. But Dan knew the danger of riding blindly into the dense brush. He knew that the cow, in such dense cover, might charge and ram a long horn into his horse as quick as a thought. In that case he might shoot the cow but he could not be sure what would happen and in no case would he take any horse whatever into such a danger as that. Dan sat on his horse and looked for some time, hoping for some movement in the brush beyond. But even the bluejay had become quiet and the place was as still as though nothing had ever happened.

Dan was still looking at the heifer when he looked up suddenly and saw the two riders again. They were Jim Arnold and Bob Williams. When they came up Dan exclaimed, “Look at this heifer! My guess is that black longhorn cow got too close and that the heifer didn’t have a ghost of a chance. What do you think?”

Jim and Bob rode close and looked. Jim said, “I’m certain of it, Dan. Did you get off Tomahawk here?”

Dan said, “No, I wanted to but I didn’t.”

Jim Arnold looked concerned. He said, “Remember what I said some time ago. That brute is plumb dangerous. Bob and I have kept our eyes open all morning hoping to see that black longhorn, but we’ve not seen hide nor hair of her. She’s as cunning as any wolf. I’m certain this is her work here. Another cow might have run at this young cow and hooked her once but the heifer would have got away. But that black outlaw has got blood in her eye. No cow can get away from that brute once she takes a notion.”

After a pause Dan said, “I think likely the outlaw has got a calf somewhere. It’s calving time and, with a calf hidden somewhere, she’s plumb bad.”

Jim took his rifle from his saddle and said, “Now, let’s take a look around here, and have your rifles ready.”

Agreeable to this the three of them started north, keeping some distance from the edge of the many brushy thickets that grew out on the level land. They had not gone far when there was a crash in the brush and each one gripped his rifle. Then they all grinned. They saw an old brindle longhorn steer rush through the brush and disappear.

Jim said, “We scared him. He’s big enough and quick enough, too, maybe, but he’ll have to be quick if that old black cow rushes at him.”

They kept to the open ground for a time, then rode up to the top of a high ridge where they could see the place all around them. They did not know that if they should ride on toward the north they would come to the place where Tomahawk had been attacked by the black cow, and that she was now in that place where she still kept the calf hidden, although the calf was now fully a month old. The black cow had begun to wander some distance from the calf which she still kept concealed in the bushes during the day. At night she permitted the calf to accompany her some distance from the hiding place, but before daylight she would again conceal the calf in the brush. In this, like all her other vicious ways, the outlaw was different from the other longhorn cattle. Others set forth with the calf at a week old. But not so the black outlaw.

Jim, Dan and Bob sat on their horses and looked for some time. They could see across the tops of the green trees to the silent hillslope beyond, but all was still. There was no sign of cattle anywhere. Jim remembered a place toward the south where he thought the black cow might be in hiding in the brush. He said, “I figure that old outlaw cow may have her calf somewhere south of here, in the tall brush down there on the valley near the mouth of the creek. There’s lots of tall brush there and the grass is good. That’s the kind of place where she could hide and run out at anything she took a notion to. And it will be dangerous business looking for her close to the tall brush there.” Jim turned to Dan and said, “Dan, suppose you go on hunting toward the north where the land is more open. Keep out in the open away from the brush and don’t get off Tomahawk’s back for anything. It’s possible you may get a pot shot at the outlaw in the open.” Accordingly, it was agreed that Dan should ride north and Jim and Bob toward the south.

It often happened that when a rider, as on this occasion, got separated from the other men, he might not see them again until he rode in to the ranch at night. But at this time Jim had told Dan of a place where they could come together later on. No special time was set for them to ride to the meeting place. Jim said he and Bob would hunt for the black cow near the brush down on the valley to the south and if they found no sign of the animal they would make their way up from that point, hunting in a northerly direction. The time might be long or it might not be when they would turn north. Much would depend on whether or not they saw the black cow. If Jim and Bob had luck in destroying the black longhorn, they agreed to ride at once to the place designated and fire their rifles to attract Dan. But if Dan, by chance, had luck, he was to ride to the spot, fire his rifle, and wait for the other two to come up.

Dan then rode Tomahawk off toward the north while Jim and Bob rode southward. With deep satisfaction Dan looked at the butt of his rifle protruding from its long leather holster on the saddle in front of him. While Tomahawk walked forward in long, swinging strides Dan thought of the places where he would ride and look for the outlaw and he rode in the general direction toward the place where he was to meet Jim and Bob later on.

He thought of a certain spot on a low place to the north, the place near the head of Brandon’s gorge, where there was a wide patch of brush growing and he knew the grass was unusually good all around the brush. A smile spread over Dan’s face as he thought to himself, “If I should happen to see the black outlaw there and bring the beast down, I would have a surprise for Jim and Bob.” The smile left his face and he looked serious as he thought, “Jim and Bob can take care of themselves while they are hunting that brute and I know how to take care of myself, too. I won’t ride too near the brush and I won’t get off Tomahawk’s back, either.” After some considerable time had passed Dan and Tomahawk came to one of the greenest of low-lying places. Tomahawk seemed to want to travel at a walk and Dan let him have his way while he, himself, looked at the carpet of green all around him. There was not a bush or tree anywhere to be seen, on this lowland, but a carpet of green on the level and a hillslope on one side. Various wild flowers, blue, white and golden, grew all over the level green, and the whole place lay serene and still, bathed in the bright sunlight.

As Tomahawk walked along in his regular, swinging stride, he seemed more lively than usual. Dan leaned forward and patted Tomahawk vigorously on one of his powerful shoulders. As Dan did this there was a smile on his face and a bright light in his eyes. Tomahawk seemed to be unaware of the pat on his shoulder, but though he showed no outward response he was keenly aware of it, and it pleased him. Tomahawk knew who was on his back and he was satisfied with everything.

Dan rode on to some higher ground where he could see a long distance ahead. He saw a small clump of trees standing out in the open on the higher ground. He arrived at the first clump of trees and looked intently among them. But he saw nothing except the silent trees and the deep shade cast on the ground beneath. He rode on and came to another clump of trees but everything there was as before. The ground lay almost bare under the deep shade and there was no sign of life in the place. Dan rode on along the highland looking constantly for the black cow.

Quite some time had passed when Tomahawk came to an open cattle trail that led down from the high ground to the low valley, bordered by the ridges on either side. This was near the head of Brandon’s gorge. While Tomahawk walked down the trail Dan looked at the place. He had no way of knowing that he was approaching the point where Tomahawk had had the tilt with the black cow, and Tomahawk had no way of telling him.

Tomahawk followed the open trail down to the lowland. He walked along the winding path until it turned and led along the precipitous bank that dropped sheer away to the level ground below. Dan had ridden on this trail the summer before but he had not seen the place again until now. He knew of the spring for he had once stopped there to drink. When Dan thought of the spring it came to him that Tomahawk was no doubt wanting water, and he decided to go on to a point where there was a cut in the bank, and ride to the spring. But Dan had thought of the black cow, too. He thought of the outlaw when he saw the tall brush beyond the steep bank. And he looked at the tall, dense masses of brush growing on the level ground not very far from the spring.

As Tomahawk walked on the trail his hoofs made grating sounds on the loose shale rock under his feet. Once a clump of brush, taller than the rest, scraped against Dan’s boot in the stirrup. Tomahawk walked with his head down a little, and he seemed at ease except that his dark, alert eyes were looking at everything in front of him.

Tomahawk had reached the point near the bank where the trail led very close to the steep declivity. Dan was riding loosely in the saddle looking across toward the brush on the level ground. Suddenly there sounded the buzzing of a rattlesnake close beside Tomahawk. In a flash he leaped aside to escape the deadly thing. He leaped in the only direction he could to escape, and he fell over the bank to the ground below. Dan, thrown out of the saddle, struck hard with his side on a hump of ground near some bushes. He felt a sharp pain in his side, as several of his ribs were broken. One shoulder and one foot were badly hurt. But Tomahawk, unhurt, at once sprang to his feet. Dan was shocked and dazed but this was nothing, for at that moment he saw, to his amazement, the black outlaw cow charge from the brush at Tomahawk. The shock of this lent strength to Dan. He crawled up behind a small bush in time to see Tomahawk leap toward the charging cow. When she got near, Tomahawk leaped aside and let fly both hind hoofs. One hoof struck the beast fair on the nose. She was turned aside and stumbled to one knee. Instantly she sprang up and, with a bellow of rage, charged at Tomahawk. He leaped aside to the open grassland and on the instant Dan saw that the rifle had not fallen. It was still in its upright position in the holster on the saddle.

Dan turned on one elbow. He saw, through the brush, Tomahawk fighting the cow on the level before him. He saw Tomahawk leap aside, escape the horns and, as the black cow passed, he saw Tomahawk let fly his hind hoofs and Dan heard the thud of the impact against the cow. Dan did not know whether or not the black longhorn had seen him but he believed she had. He thought that if she could dispose of Tomahawk she would then rush upon him. He felt that he should try to get up the steep bank. Slowly he stood up but he found one arm and one foot almost useless. He turned and looked once at the battle only a little distance away. And it was a battle! He saw the black cow charging Tomahawk and he saw Tomahawk leap aside and kick with his heels. Then he saw Tomahawk, with his ears laid back, his teeth gleaming, seize the cow at the root of the tail when she had rushed past him.

Dan dropped down behind the bush and tried to think. Once he thought of trying to crawl down to the cut in the bank and so crawl around to safety on top of the bank, but the cut was a good distance away. And he knew the cow could see him if he crawled out in the open, which he would have to do. His progress would have to be slow. He hid as best he could behind the bush. He thought the cow, at any second, might rush for him, for he knew she must have seen both him and Tomahawk when Tomahawk fell over the bank. The bush was so small that Dan could see everything before him.

There was something in Tomahawk like the instinct of a good dog who fights an enemy of his master, when he knows his master is near. The mere presence of his master lends an overwhelming zeal to the battle and it was so now with Tomahawk. He knew Dan was near although he had no time to look. He was filled with the fire of Old White Face. She had fought for her colts against wolves more than once—had fought until the blood ran from her wounds, but this made her fight the harder. And as Old White Face had fought all enemies to protect her own so now Tomahawk fought, both for himself and the youth he knew was near.

Dan saw the longhorn, with horns down, charge headlong at Tomahawk, and he saw the horse leap aside and kick the beast in the side as she passed. Unconsciously Dan gripped some of the bush in his hands while he looked. He knew he was witnessing an unusual and amazing battle—an unusually deadly longhorn cow that would kill a man or a horse, and a great fighting horse that would fight any beast that attacked him. Tomahawk’s spirit was like that of a wild stallion that the men had seen fighting a grizzly. The horse broke the grizzly’s jaw with a kick and so caused it to lumber off into the brush.

Always before, this black longhorn had had only contempt for horses—all horses whatever. She had caught several unaware when they were loose in the brush and gored them. Always before a horse would attempt to dart away, but here was a horse that fought back in an amazing way. The outlaw was maddened by this.

Dan saw the black cow charge again and he saw Tomahawk leap aside, then whirl quickly as she passed, and drive his hind hoofs at her. Once she charged down at Tomahawk where the ground sloped a little. Tomahawk leaped aside but a horn cut through the skin of his hip and ripped it like paper. But Tomahawk whirled and before the cow could check herself in the headlong rush down the incline, he set his teeth in the root of her tail and held on. With a loud bellow of rage she whirled awkwardly and broke Tomahawk’s hold.

The fresh sting from the cutting horn only increased Tomahawk’s rage. When the brute rushed headlong again he evaded the horns and, as she went by, he set his teeth in her hind leg, just above the hock. The power and strength of Tomahawk’s teeth hindered the maddened outlaw. With a deep bellow of rage, she lunged sidewise. She jerked his hold loose but, instantly, Tomahawk grabbed again with his teeth but he caught only the bony hock. With a kick the outlaw jerked his hold loose, whirled, and charged him with her long horns. Again Tomahawk leaped, but this time one of the horns tore through the skin of his shoulder and the blood streamed. Tomahawk leaped a little away. The cow charged hard. Tomahawk sprang aside and kicked quickly. By sheer luck one of his hoofs caught the longhorn hard on a front leg at the knee and Dan, trembling like a leaf, saw the cow fall on both knees. He saw Tomahawk kick again and again and again. One mighty hoof struck one of the long horns and knocked it off. Tomahawk was now directly in front of the cow. He kicked at the front of the brute’s head—and an unusual thing happened.

One of Tomahawk’s hoofs struck the cow fair on the head, just a little above the eyes, and she went down on her side as if she had been shot. Tomahawk’s kick had crushed the skull. This could hardly have happened to a bull or a full-grown steer, but it could and did happen to this cow.

When Tomahawk saw his deadly enemy down at last, he leaped back and stood bleeding and trembling.

Dan knew Tomahawk had no further need to fight. The longhorn would not get up. Dan crawled to the open and called Tomahawk. Tomahawk raised his head and, puffing, sweating, and bleeding, he looked at Dan. There was pain written in his eyes as he looked at Dan but there came now a soft light in them. Dan crawled out a little more in the open. He felt the pain like knife stabs in his side and in his shoulder. He did not know that he had many ribs broken. As it was, his foot, while not broken, had sustained one of those crushing blows that would lame the foot for weeks before it got well. His shoulder, too, pained him but he felt a new strength. He wanted only to get to Tomahawk, get hold of his rifle and bring Jim and Bob to the place.

When Tomahawk came up Dan took hold of the stirrup with one hand and pulled himself up and got the heavy rifle. He fired three shots, the first two quickly, and, after a brief pause, another. This was a signal long agreed upon by Jim Arnold and his men if help was needed. Dan waited some time and he again fired the signal. He knew Jim and Bob would now likely be coming in his direction. Suddenly he heard the answering shots from a rifle and in a little time he saw Jim and Bob. When they saw Dan and Tomahawk they rode at a gallop toward the place. Dan was sitting on the ground beside Tomahawk’s front legs. Tomahawk, still puffing, stood and watched the men approach.

Instantly Jim and Bob saw the black cow down but as yet they did not understand. They thought the cow had charged Tomahawk with Dan on his back and Dan had shot the cow, although, when they rode up to Tomahawk, these experienced men could not understand how he had got cut in so many places. Jim saw that Dan was hurt. His face was as pale as ashes. Both men quickly dismounted. Jim bent down over Dan and Jim said, “Dan, you’ve shot that outlaw at last. Did she hook you?” Dan started to talk. All he could say was, “She would have. I couldn’t get my rifle. It was Tomahawk—” Dan couldn’t say another word. He took a quivering breath and covered his face with one hand, as he sat beside Tomahawk’s front feet. Instantly Jim and Bob understood. At a time like this a man couldn’t say a word. The muscles gripped the man’s throat so he couldn’t talk. The men stood in silence. Dan quickly got hold of himself. He took his hand from his face and in a low and even voice he told all that had happened. When he stopped speaking there fell a silence. There was no one to hear and no one to know except Jim Arnold, Dan, and Bob Williams. No one else to understand, but that did not matter. None but these brave, hard-riding men could understand, anyway.

Jim got down on the ground and felt on Dan’s side where the pain was. After feeling about a little he found that a number of Dan’s ribs were broken. Such things were painful for many days but time would heal them. The foot and shoulder were looked at. They, too, would cause pain a long time but these would also heal eventually. Falls like this happened to these men. They accepted the pain, no matter how bad, without complaint. They took it with the iron courage with which they took life in general.

And now that Dan had been looked at, Jim and Bob turned to Tomahawk and examined his cuts. Some of them would need to be sewed up, but Jim Arnold would attend to that later.

Jim walked out to the black cow and examined the skull. It was broken. Tomahawk had had the power and his kick had done the work. Jim wondered if the black cow had a calf in the bush. He mounted his horse and rode through a lane in the tall brush. Suddenly the month-old black calf ran out on the valley in the open and raced like a deer. Jim watched the creature disappear. After all he had been right. The black outlaw had a calf. It was as black as she was. The calf was old enough to go on its own.

Tomahawk, hearing the bubbling spring, turned and went to the water. He drank for some time and came back. He put his nose down with apparent curiosity and he touched Dan’s head with his nose. Dan reached up with his hand and he rubbed Tomahawk on his nose. Tomahawk raised his head and looked off toward the north. Jim looked at him and said, “Dan, I think Tomahawk’s ready to go to the ranch.” Dan was ready, also. He got up on one foot before they could help him, but he had to have help to get in the saddle. When he had mounted they all rode away together. They would have to ride at a walk.

The sun was still shining brightly from a cloudless sky. At the end of several miles they rode down in a long green valley where Dan again saw many wild flowers, blue, white and golden. And the valley lay in a peaceful stillness like that on which Dan had ridden Tomahawk before all this had happened. But to Dan everything now was different. Things, for the time, seemed different to Tomahawk, also, but not as they did to Dan. From the time when Tomahawk was a little colt the world was always strange to him. He could not understand the night or the day, and often, in the night, when Dan was asleep, Tomahawk stood with his eyes wide, wondering at the strangeness of everything around him. He could not understand any of it but he accepted it as he found it. He accepted all that had happened to him on this day. He had done the best he could. He knew Dan was on his back now and where he was going Dan would be with him. That was Tomahawk’s world. It was enough.


[The end of Tomahawk, Fighting Horse of the Old West by Thomas C. Hinkle]